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Family Law: UK divorce rates are falling

Divorce rates in England and Wales fell in 2009 for the sixth consecutive year and are the lowest since 1974.

In 2009, the total number of married couples who got divorced was 113,949. This was a 6.4% decrease from 2008, when 121,708 marriages ended in divorce.

The number of divorces in England and Wales peaked in 2003 when the divorce rate hit 153,065.

The figures mean that 10.5 people in 1,000 marries people got divorced in 2009, a drop from 11.2 people in 2008. This is the lowest rate since 1977 when 10.3 people in every married 1,000 ended up divorced.

For the fifth year running those in their 20s had the highest divorce rates. 21.7 men and 25.1 women in every 1,000 married people in their 20s got divorced in 2009.

The average age of divorce has risen for men, from 43.9 in 2008 to 44 in 2009, and has dropped for women, form 41.5 in 2008 to 41.4 in 2009.

However, the figures don't show the overall picture for family breakups. Separating cohabiting parents are not included in the statistics. As marriage becomes less popular (figures show that in 2008 the marriage rate was at its lowest since 1895), divorce rates will drop, but the number of families that are splitting up could be increasing despite the drop in divorces.

Divorce figures across the whole of the UK have also decreased, from 135,994 in 2008 to 126,496 in 2009.

All the above figures have come from the Office for National Statistics.

Related links:

Number of divorces at lowest since 1974 (The Telegraph)
Read about the divorce procedure (FindLaw)
Divorce and separation (FindLaw)
Find local solicitors in the UK (FindLaw)