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Divorce rate continues decade-long fall


The number of people divorcing across England and Wales continued to fall in 2015, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

A total of 101,055 opposite sex couples went their separate ways that year; a fall of more than nine per cent in just three years, when 111,169 marriages came to an end.

This drop has continued steadily for more than a decade, since 2003, when the number of divorces in England and Wales hit their highest level this century: 153,065 couples split that year, 34 per cent more than the current number.

Stowe Family Law Managing Partner Rachel Roberts says the economic downturn in the second half of the last decade led many couples to conclude they could not afford to divorce.

“The peak was pre- the economic downturn and there was a very noticeable reduction in the level of divorces following that, and those divorces that did proceed were often difficult to deal with owing to the lack of movement in the property market and depressed prices, and lack of liquidity and value in business assets, not to mention people losing jobs. We often gave advice to clients who decided not to proceed at that time because it was not financially viable for them to do so.”

Divorces plunged from 121,798 in 2008, when the crash occurred, to just 113,949 in 2009. After that a modest rise occurred before the overall rate began to decline again.

Nowadays, Rachel says, divorce is much more straightforward from a financial point of view:

“Increased economic growth and stability combined with the buoyant house market has made it easier in the last few years to divide assets between divorcing parties and meet their future needs.”

The continuing decline in the number of couples divorcing most likely reflects the fact that fewer couples than ever are marrying in the first place. Recent figures from the ONS have shown, she points out, a steady in the number of couples cohabiting without marriage. Last year this stood at close to ten per cent of the adult population.

Stowe Family Law is the UK’s largest specialist family law firm, with offices in North and West Yorkshire, London, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Hertfordshire and Hampshire.

For interview requests during standard office hours:

• 01423 532 600
[email protected]

For interview requests out of office hours:

• 07860 920192

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