New data from the Office for National Statistics shows the UK divorce rate fell by 2.5% in 2008. Divorce rates normally dip during recession, so the statistics won't surprise too many.
The 2008 divorce rate is, however, the lowest since 1979. In 2008, there were 11.5 divorcing people per 1,000 married people. This compares with 11.8 in 2007 and 11.2 in 1979.
For the fourth consecutive year, men and women in their late twenties had the highest divorce rates. There were 26.3 divorces per 1,000 married men aged 25 to 29 and 27.8 divorces per 1,000 married women aged 25 to 29.
This compares with 16.8 divorces per 1,000 married men aged 45 to 49 and 14.6 divorces per 1,000 married women aged 45 to 49.
The average age at divorce in England and Wales is now 43.9 years for men and 41.4 years for women. In 1998, the average age at divorce for men was 40.4 years for men and 37.9 years for women. The Office for National Statistics says the increase simply reflects the rise in age at marriage.
Another interesting statistic: one in five divorcing in 2008 had a previous marriage ending in divorce. This proportion has almost doubled since 1981 when 11% of those divorcing had a previous marriage ending in divorce. 69% of divorces in 2008 were to couples where the marriage was the first for both parties.
For 67% of divorces in 2008, the wife was granted the divorce, rather than the husband. Unreasonable behaviour was the most common reason cited for divorce.
Taking the UK as a whole, between 2007 and 2008 the number of divorces fell by 5.5% to 136,026, from 143,955. This is the fourth consecutive fall in the number of UK divorces and the lowest number since 1976 (135,960). The figure is 25% lower than the highest number of divorces, which peaked in 1993 (180,523).
In 2008 in England and Wales the number of divorces fell by 5% to 121,779; in Scotland they fell by 10% from 12,810 to 11,474; and in Northern Ireland they fell by 4.8% from 2,913 to 2,773.
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