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Remarkable UK Divorce Facts

The UK Office for National Statistics releases annual reports on divorce numbers and facts. The latest release from September 2018 covers divorces granted in 2017. Each year, we take a look at the numbers to draw out interesting or unexpected facts about modern divorces in England & Wales.

Millennials are half as likely to be divorced as their parents were at the same age.

Men born in 1980 have an 8% probability of being divorced by age 38, and women of the same age 11%.

Men and women of the previous generation, born in 1955, had a 20% and 23% probability of being divorced at the same age of 38.

Modern marriages are lasting longer than ever

The median duration of marriage for divorces granted to opposite-sex couples in 2017 was 12.2 years. This is a record high and follows an upward trend since the 80s.

Median duration of marriages that end in divorce for opposite-sex couples, 1963 to 2017

The UK divorce rate continues to fall to record lows

The divorce rate now stands at 8.4 per 1,000 married population. The divorce rate has fallen more than 40% since its peak in the 90s.

The divorce rate for men is highest in the 45 to 49 age group and lowest in the 60s and over. The divorce rate for women is highest in the 40 to 44 age group and lowest in the 60s and over.

Only 59% of marriages are the first marriage for both parties

In 1970, 90% of marriages were the first marriage for both husband and wife. That proportion has fallen consistently to this year’s low of 59%.

The proportion of marriages where both parties were previously divorced has risen from 2% in the 70s to 14% in this year’s figures.

Men are much less likely to divorce on the basis of unreasonable behaviour

Only 37% of divorces commenced by men were granted on the basis of unreasonable behaviour, compared to 52% for women.

Adultery continues to fall in popularity as the fact proven in a divorce. Only 10% of 2017 divorces were granted on this basis, down from 30% in 1981.

For last year’s statistics, see our post How Many UK Marriages End in Divorce (and other interesting statistics)?

Divorce facts in the UK 2017

Human Statue in Milton Keynes shopping centre, by Brian Tomlinson

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