The Office for National Statistics – statistical bulletin 2017: Divorces in England and Wales

19 / 10 / 2017

The Office for National Statistics (which produces statistics for the UK) released its statistical bulletin on 18 October 2017 in relation to divorces in England and Wales in 2016.

Some of the main findings are as follows:

  • That the number of opposite-sex couples divorcing in 2016 has increased by 5.8% (although they are still 3.8% lower than in 2014 and a massive 30% lower than in 2003);
  • There has been a five-fold increase in the number of same-sex couples divorcing in 2016, compared to 2015, with the large majority of these cases – 78% – being female couples;
  • In 2016, with regards to opposite-sex couples, where Decree Absolute (the last part of the divorce, ending the marriage) was granted, the Petitioner (the person applying for a divorce) was the wife in 61% of cases;
  • The most commonly cited ground for a divorce in those cases was unreasonable behaviour (the potential grounds being unreasonable behaviour, adultery, two years’ separation with consent, five years separation and desertion); and
  • Interesting, the bulletin states that “Unreasonable behaviour has consistently been the most common ground for wives petitioning for divorce since the late 1970s; prior to this, the ground was named “cruelty”. Unreasonable behaviour has only been the most common ground for husbands petitioning since 2006; in the 1980s and 1990s adultery was generally the most common ground for husbands petitioning, while between 1999 and 2005 it was separation (two years and consent)”.