Divorce statistics 2017
The official statistics on the number of divorces in England and Wales were released on 18 October 2017 and show that there were 106,959 divorces of opposite-sex couples in 2016, an increase of 5.8% compared with 2015.
Although the number of divorces of the opposite-sex couples increased since 2015, both are still significantly lower than the most recent peak in 2003. The ONS highlights that this is almost certainly due to the size of the married population and the rise in the number of cohabiting couples.
We know that cohabiting couples is the fastest growing family type in the UK, as noted by the Chair of Resolution, Nigel Shepherd, who commented on the rise of cohabitation 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.
Resolution is an organisation of 6,500 family lawyers and other professional in England and Wales, who believe in a constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law matters. Resolution also campaigns for improvements to the family justice system. We are members of Resolution and endorse that there is time to “make no-fault the default” in divorces to eradicate the blame culture.