Figures recently released from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), show that in 2021, there were 113,505 divorces granted in England and Wales, a 9.6% increase compared with 2020 when there were 103,592 divorces.
The number of divorces granted during 2020 may have been affected by the disruption that we as family law solicitors experienced to family court activities, during the coronavirus pandemic; the increase in divorces granted in 2021 may partially reflect these delays as well as the impact of the pandemic on divorce applications.
The majority (111,934) of divorces in 2021 were among opposite-sex couples, with 1,571 (1.4%) among same-sex couples; female couples made up 67.2% of same-sex divorces.
Divorce rates in 2021 were 9.3 for men and 9.4 for women per 1,000 of the married population (including both opposite-sex and same-sex couples); in comparison, the rates in 2020 were lower, with 8.5 for men and 8.6 for women per 1,000 of the married population.
Among opposite-sex couples in 2021, females were more likely to petition for divorce (63.1%) compared with males (36.9%); these are similar proportions to those in 2020, with 62.6% of petitions where females petitioned and 37.4% with males petitioning.
Unreasonable behaviour was the most common reason for females petitioning for divorce among opposite-sex couples in 2021, accounting for 48.1% of applications; for males, the most common reasons for divorce were unreasonable behaviour or two-year separation, which both accounted for 34.8% of applications.
As family law solicitors, we suspect that there may be a further increase in the numbers referred to above in 2022, as many couples will have waited until the introduction of no-fault divorce, before taking steps to end their marriage.
Author: Sam John