The number of opposite-sex couples divorcing in England and Wales increased by 5.8% in 2016, according to the latest statistical bulletin released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The ONS figures show that there were 106,959 divorces of opposite-sex couples in 2016 and that the divorce rate for opposite-sex couples was highest among men aged 45 to 49 and women in their thirties (ages 30 to 39). There were 112 divorces of same-sex couples in 2016; of these 78% were among female couples.
Nicola Haines, Vital Statistics Outputs Branch, ONS, said:
‘Although the number of divorces of opposite-sex couples in England and Wales increased by 5.8% in 2016 compared with 2015, the number remains 30% lower than the most recent peak in 2003; divorce rates for men and women have seen similar changes.
This is the second year that divorces among same-sex couples have been possible since the introduction of marriages of same-sex couples in March 2014.
Our latest marriage figures show that of the 4,850 marriages formed between same-sex couples in 2014, 56% were female couples. In 2016, there were 112 divorces among same-sex couples, with female couples accounting for 78% of these.’
Commenting on the rise in divorce in opposite-sex couples, Nigel Shepherd, Chair of Resolution, said:
‘Although the numbers of divorces, and the divorce rate, are up on 2015, both are still far lower than their recent peak of 2003. As the ONS recognises, this is almost certainly due, in part, to the rise in the number of cohabiting couples – the fastest growing family type in the UK.
Yet despite this, there is still little or no legal protection for cohabitants should they separate. What’s more, many are living together while still believing there is such a thing as common-law marriage in this country and that as a result they have rights – there isn’t and they don’t. Action needs to be taken to change this.
It’s also important to recognise that behind these statistics, there are tens of thousands of couples who are currently discouraged by the current system from taking a non-confrontational approach to divorce. For many separating couples, the need to apportion blame on the divorce petition can introduce unnecessary conflict, which adds to the stress and heartache for the couple themselves and, crucially, any children they may have.
For decades, “unreasonable behaviour” has been the most common reason for divorce among opposite-sex couples, yet many are forced into playing this ‘blame game’ by our archaic divorce laws.
That’s why we have repeatedly called on government to legislate for no-fault divorce, and will continue to do so. This call is echoed by senior legal figures, such as Baroness Hale, the President of the Supreme Court, and Sir Paul Coleridge, the Chair of the Marriage Foundation.
In the face of such overwhelming support, and with the Supreme Court due next spring to hear the appeal of Mrs Owens, whose divorce has been denied because of the current law, the government needs to listen and take action.
It’s time to make no-fault the default.’
Marlborough Law Ltd’s Family Department support Resolution UK’s call for the no-fault divorce.
Article from Family Law Uk – publishing imprint of Lexis Nexis UK.
Date : 18th October 2017