The Office for National Statistics has released data on divorce rates in England and Wales for 2021. It shows there were 113,505 divorces for the year, an increase of 9.6% on the previous year. This rise is, in part, down to people holding off divorce proceedings during the lockdowns of 2021, says Philip Rutter.
Every year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) publishes data on divorce rates in England and Wales. Its data shines a spotlight on marriage in the UK between heterosexual and same-sex relationships.
The ONS reports that 113,505 divorces were granted in 2021, a 9.6% increase on 2020 when 103,592 divorces were granted. Most of those divorces were among opposite-sex couples, with just 1.4%, or 1,571 divorces, from same-sex couples.
The ONS data points yet again to women being more likely to petition for divorce (63%) than men (37%).
The introduction of no-fault divorce in April 2022 is, of course, not reflected in the 2021 data, with women stating ‘unreasonable behaviour’ as the most common cause (48%), with men more commonly citing ‘unreasonable behaviour’ and ‘two-year separation’ equally (both 35%).
The ONS data highlights a continuing trend of ‘silver divorces’, those divorcing before their 25th wedding anniversary, rising from just 23% in 1963, the first-year data was collected, to 41% for those marrying in 1996, those now approaching their silver wedding anniversary.
The overall rise is significant. Some people will have held off issuing divorce proceedings during the 2021 lockdowns as they will have been uncomfortable doing so as they would have had little option, but to continue living under the same roof. For others, it will have been the stresses and strains of lockdowns that will have brought problems within their marriage to the surface.
The ongoing increase in silver divorces is not surprising. People approaching retirement realise that they are likely to live for another 30 years or more and that they don’t want to spend the rest of their lives with the person they married many years before.
Alongside the family home, a pension is likely to be one of the most valuable assets an individual holds. It is especially important that individuals who divorce as they approach retirement or having recently retired take independent advice from a specialist solicitor to ensure those assets are fairly considered on separation.
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The Family and Divorce Team at Bishop & Sewell have a breadth of experience in dealing with divorce and separation, including all financial aspects.
The above is accurate as at 02 November 2022. The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis.