A total of 112 same sex couples divorced in 2016 and nearly 80 per cent of these were female, the Office for National Statistics has reported.
Although a small number, last year was only the second year in which divorce between same sex couples has been an option since the introduction of gay marriage in 2014. The 2016 figure was still five times higher than the 22 same sex couples who divorced in 2015.
The predominance of divorce amongst female same sex couples may be at least partly accounted for by the fact that more female couples than male ones were married in 2014: 56 vs 44 per cent.
It also reflects the long-standing tendency amongst heterosexual couples for women to initiate divorce more than men. The newly published ONS figures show a total of 106,959 opposite sex divorces last year, 61 per cent of which were initiated by women.
The 2016 total represented an increase of just under six per cent from the 2015 tally of 101,055. This is the first substantial rise in the divorce rate since 2010, but is still significantly lower than the peak 21st Century rate of 153,065 in 2003.
The 2016 figure for opposite sex couples equates to 8.9 divorces per 1,000 married man and women. Women in their 30s and men in their late 40s were the age groups most likely to divorce.
Stowe Family Law Partner Joanna Kay said:
“The ONS trends fit in with our experience: most petitioners for divorce are women, the number of divorces has increased and we have seen an increase in same sex divorces.”
“Economic doom and gloom was forecast in 2016 but, despite Brexit, growth and consumer spending held up better than expected in the second half of the year. This may have contributed to people feeling confident enough to divorce.”