News | Legal News

19 October 2017

Rise in divorces for heterosexual couples

The number of divorces among heterosexual couples in England and Wales is at its highest since 2009, official figures show.

According to data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), 106,959 couples decided to permanently split in 2016, an increase of 5.8% on 2015.

The rise marks the biggest year-on-year jump since 1985.

The most common reason cited on divorce papers is "unreasonable behaviour".

More than half (51%) of women and over a third (36%) of men petition for divorce on regards of unreasonable behaviour, which includes adultery.

But Relate - a charity specialising in relationship counselling - says rising debt levels and stagnating wages are possibly putting added strain on couples.

Chris Sherwood, Relate's chief executive, said: "It is unclear as to why there was a slight increase in divorces in 2016 and as to whether this rise will continue or not.

"We know that money worries are one of the top strains on relationships and it may be that rising levels of household debt and stagnating pay growth could be contributing factors."

Only 18 women and two men below the age of 20 petitioned for divorce in 2016.

Excluding this marginal group, collectively, men and women aged 55 to 59 notched the highest year-on-year rise, increasing by 14.57% in 2016 compared with the previous year.

It's been suggested that rises in so-called "silver splitters" can be attributed in part to pension freedoms that launched in 2015, allowing those over the age of 55 to access their pension pots early, offering financial security.

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