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Divorce rates in the UK

According to the Office of National Statistics’ most recent publications, there were 19 million families living in the UK in 2017, a 15% increase over the past 11 years. The married or civil partner family remains the most common family type, with unmarried cohabiting couples becoming the fastest growing.

However, relationship breakdowns are still a sadly regular occurrence. According to the most recent statistics 107,071 divorces were granted in 2016, comprised of 106,959 opposite sex couples and 112 same sex couples. This marks the first notable increase in divorces of opposite sex couples since 2009, however the data shows that the rate of divorce is still significantly lower than the peaks seen in 2003 and 2004.

Unreasonable behaviour maintains its position as the most commonly used reason given for a divorce, having topped the list for the last 10 years. The most likely reason for this is that couples can start divorce proceedings immediately on this basis by providing 5 or 6 examples of behaviour which has led to the breakdown of the marriage, rather than waiting for at least two years separation to pass. Statistics show that wives continue to issue the majority of petitions in opposite sex couple divorces, making up 61% of “Petitioners” in 2016.

At BPE we understand that the decision to end a marriage is often incredibly difficult to come to terms with, and we support, guide and advise clients through what is often the most challenging time of their lives. If you are thinking of separating in the New Year, please do not hesitate to contact us for an initial discussion about how we can help you.


These notes have been prepared for the purpose of articles only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.

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