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What's New? > News & Press Releases > Number of Divorces Increases For The First Time In 7 Years


Nov 17

Number of Divorces Increases For The First Time In 7 Years

New figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the overall rate of divorce for opposite-sex couples in the UK has increased for the first time since 2009, to 5.8% in 2016.

Men and women aged between 45 to 49 are more likely to file for a divorce with women continuing to be more likely to petition for divorce in opposite-sex marriages and this trend was reflected among same-sex couples, with female couples accounting for 78% of such divorces.  

The most common ground for divorce continues to be unreasonable behaviour, with 36% of all husbands and 51% of all wives petitioning for divorce on this ground.

Although the overall number of divorces remains well below its 2003 peak, experts say that the process of divorce, negotiating over finances and family arrangements, is becoming ever more complex, and suggest couples should be more open to making agreements and understanding finances from the outset.

The increased value of family assets means more is at stake after a marriage breakdown. Wealth statistics from ONS show that by 2014 half of all households had a total wealth of £225,100 or more.

Although family property tends to be thought of as the biggest asset, the figures show private pensions were the largest element of total wealth. Changes in legislation have opened the door to greater flexibility in accessing pension pots and as a result, many more couples are seeking a share of pension arrangements on divorce.

Sarah Fairbrother, director and family solicitor at Ward Gethin Archer said “As divorce rates are on the rise along with increasingly complex finances, especially those who are in second or subsequent marriages, I strongly recommend couples look to arrange pre-nuptial agreements, or sometimes post-nuptial. While these agreements are not automatically legally binding in England and Wales, they are likely to be upheld, if done properly, and is a way of clearly setting out what each person has brought into the relationship, in case of any later division of assets and final pay-out”.

Sarah added:  “What is important is open communication and understanding of financial affairs, and making such an agreement can help couples to have a more frank discussion at the outset.  Often, one partner may take the lead on finances, or some couples may just avoid it, as they think it’s a tricky topic.  But understanding what you have today, in a positive, settled relationship, may mean you can better cope if the worst happens and things become difficult in future.”

As a result of divorce negotiations becoming increasingly complex, Ward Gethin Archer is holding two free family law advice days at their Chatteris and Watton offices on Wednesday 29th and Thursday 30th November for anyone who wishes to speak to one of their family law experts.

Sarah commented, “We will be on-hand to answer questions on any family issues you may be facing, not only on divorce but also on matters such as access to children, finance, Grandparent rights and planning ahead with prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.”

Only a limited number of appointments are available during Ward Gethin Archer’s free family law advice day and anyone wishing to book a free 30-minute appointment should call either their Chatteris office on 01354 538537 or Watton office on 01953 880812 or visit