The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 saw the temporary suspension of operations by some courts, which may have impacted the number of people getting divorced at that time. This makes it challenging to know the impact of the pandemic on divorce numbers.
However, according to the latest recorded data from the ONS, divorce rates in England and Wales have decreased compared with 2019. Here are some more facts about divorce in 2022 that you may not know.
1. Same-sex divorces on the rise
Divorces among same-sex couples have increased by 40.4 per cent since 2019. 71.3 per cent of these were led by female same-sex divorces.
2. Most typical reasons for divorce
The most common reason for wives petitioning for divorce from their husbands was unreasonable behaviour. Unreasonable behaviour accounts for 47.4 per cent of petitions.
The most common cause for a husband to divorce their wife was following a two-year separation. This accounts for 34.7 per cent of divorces, followed by 33.8 per cent for unreasonable behaviour.
3. Marriages are getting shorter
The average (median) duration of marriage today is 11.9 years at the time of divorce for opposite-sex couples—a decrease in length from 12.4 years of marriage in 2019. For same-sex divorces, the average (median) duration of marriage at the time of divorce was 4.7 years for female couples and 5.4 years for male couples.
4. Divorce rates rising in older age
Divorce rates are increasing in the over 65s. In general, older people in England and Wales are getting married and divorced in more significant numbers. Many believe this is down to an ageing population with longer life expectancy, seeing more people starting and ending relationships later in life.
5. Women more likely to divorce
Married women in their late twenties are the most likely demographic to get divorced. The highest divorce rates are among women aged 25-29 at 23.6 per thousand married population, over twice the average.
A generation ago, women were more dependent on their spouses for financial support, and divorce carried a social stigma that women found hard to bear. Today, women are more likely to have careers and be financially independent. Divorce has also lost its stigma, so women are now more inclined to leave an unhappy or unsatisfactory marriage.
6. No-fault divorce introduced in 2022
No-fault divorces were introduced on 6 April 2022 when changes to the legislation on divorce came into force. The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 reforms the legal requirements and process for divorce.
The act reduces the potential for conflict amongst divorcing couples by removing the ability to make allegations about a spouse’s conduct and allowing couples to end their marriage jointly.
Divorcing couples now have a minimum period of 20 weeks to wait between the start of proceedings and the application for the conditional order. This means that married couples can have a cooling-off period where they can reconsider their decisions.
According to Wise law, the introduction of the new no-fault divorce has seen a rise in divorce applications from couples who don’t want to play the blame game and instead want a more civilised and respectful way to separate.
Many married couples were waiting for the new rules to come into force before going through the divorce process. Data from the HM Courts and Tribunals Service shows that 3,000 divorce applications were made within the first week of no-fault divorce laws coming into effect.
In many cases, couples have simply grown apart and don’t want to place the blame for the marriage break up onto the other partner, which was a necessary part of divorce proceedings before the divorce law reforms.