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Latest Divorce Statistics for England and Wales

Table Of Contents

    Among opposite-sex couples, unreasonable behaviour was the most common reason cited by wives petitioning for divorce, which accounted for 47.4% of all divorce petitions.

    The most common reason for divorces cited by husbands was a two-year separation, accounting for 34.7% of divorces, closely followed by unreasonable behaviour (33.8%).

    The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 became law on 6th April 2022 and drastically reformed the divorce process by removing the concept of fault with the aim of simplifying the proceedings and helping couples avoid unnecessary acrimony.

    Therefore, it is no longer necessary, or even possible, for either party to prove ‘fault’ to obtain a divorce. This part of the new no-fault divorce law is intended to end the ‘blame game’ which previously blighted the divorce law and more importantly for some, it also means not having to wait at least two years before getting divorced.

    What age group has the highest divorce rate?

    In England & Wales, divorce is generally in decline as data shows a 28% fall in the number of divorces between 2005 and 2015, but older people are bucking this trend.

    The number of men divorcing aged 65 and over went up by 23% while the number of women of the same age that divorced increased by 38% for the same period.

    It would seem then that older people in England and Wales are getting married and divorced in greater numbers. So why are these so-called “Silver Splicers” & “Silver Splitters” starting and ending relationships in later life?

    Firstly, the number of couples getting married aged 65 and over has increased by a massive 46% in just a decade, from 7,468 in 2004 up to 10,937 in 2014, the most recent ONS marriage data has shown.

    This trend is set against a backdrop of an ageing population, with the number of people aged 65 and over up by 20% for the same period. This could be due to the post-war baby boom as well as people now living longer.

    Silver Splitters Divorce

    Though the number of divorce applications has lessened in general, there has been a marked increase in the number of couples over the age of 65 filing for divorce.

    Divorce rates for the over 65’s have increased by over 40% – hence this new category of divorcees commonly referred to as ‘Silver Splitters’.

    Growing divorce rates within this age demographic could be due to several factors which include longer life expectancy, greater financial independence for women and a reduced stigma attached to divorce as society has changed.

    It is, nevertheless, the exceptional priorities of this age group that set them apart from divorcing couples of younger generations.

    Most Silver Splitters for example are either already retired or are planning for retirement quite soon.

    It is crucial, therefore, that silver splitters consider how their assets are divided to afford both parties the financial security in retirement that they have both worked hard to achieve.

    For this age group those assets are often considerable due to the longer length of their marriages and the so-called ‘matrimonial pot’ can often involve multiple properties and large pensions.

    We have considered some of the reasons for this new phenomenon in a previous article called Silver Splitters Divorce.

    We also looked at some of the financial consequences of getting divorced later in life including the potential for women to suffer greater monetary loss.

    These divorce statistics are derived from information recorded by HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) during the divorce process. The Figures represent divorces and annulments but do not include civil partnership dissolutions as they are reported separately.

    Divorces, where the marriage took place abroad, are included, provided the marriage was legally recognised in the UK and one of the parties had a permanent home in England or Wales.

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