Dissolutions and Annulments of Marriage: Marital Status, Age and Sex of Divorcees

Published: 6th November 2017

Figures for the dissolution and annulment of marriages have recently been released by the Office for National Statistics. These statistics are particularly useful for understanding the profile of divorcees in today's society and are collated from sources of information recorded by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service, during cases of divorce, including previous marital status, sex and age of the individuals getting divorced.

Females in Same-Sex Marriages Opted for Divorce More often Than Men

During 2016, a total of 112 same-sex divorces were completed (compared to only 22 in 2015), with 78% of those amongst female couples.

The most common reason for the separation of same sex couples during 2016 was unreasonable behaviour. A staggering 96% of male couple divorces and 93% of female couple divorces cited the grounds of unreasonable behaviour. For same-sex couples, a sexual relationship with somebody other than your partner can also be included within the unreasonable behaviour reasoning.

First Significant Increase in Opposite Sex Divorces Since 2009

Despite being 30% lower than the most recent peak in opposite sex divorces in 2003, 2016 saw the first significant increase inopposite sex divorces. The increase was by 5.8% to 106,959 compared to 2015, which is the first since a 4.9% increase from 2009 to 2010, and a much smaller increase of 0.5% from 2011 to 2012. This follows a string of recent decreases indivorces, including a notable decrease between 2014 and 2015, where opposite sex divorces fell by 9.1%. There was also a decrease inthe number of divorces that occurred between 2003 and 2009, however this correlated with a fall in marriages throughout the same period.

There was also an increase inthe number of opposite sex divorces per 1,000 married men and women, rising to 8.9 divorces. Although this is still much lower than the rates of 2003 and 2004, it is still higher than during 2015, which saw 8.5 divorces per 1,000 married men and women.

The Age of Opposite Sex Couples Seeking a Divorce

During 2016, divorce rates were higher for men aged 45-49 and with women aged 30-39, less men than women divorced above the age of 45. With this a similar pattern to 2015, the idea that men often marry women younger than themselves is fully supported.

In comparison to those of 2015, divorce rates in 2016 for women of all ages, except those aged between 25 and 29, have increased. Divorce rates for men aged 25 and above also increased during 2016. However, when compared to 2014, divorces for men aged 45 and under, and between 50 and 54 have decreased, whilst divorces for women aged 20-34, 40-44 and 50-54 have also decreased.

The Key Statistical Points

Following the release of the data by the Office for National Statistics, there are a number of key statistics that highlight the specifics of the dissolutions and annulments of marriage in current society:

  • 112 same-sex marriages ended in divorce during 2016, and 78% were marriages between female couples.
  • A total of 106,959 opposite-sex marriages ended in divorce during 2016, which was a total increase of 5.8% when compared to the previous year.
  • There were 8.9 opposite sex divorces per 1,000 men and women in 2016. This was a total increase of 4.7% when compared to the previous year.
  • The highest divorce rate for opposite sex couples was forwomen aged 30-39 and men aged 45-49.

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