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51% of women, 36% of men divorce for unreasonable behavior in U.K.

Wed, Oct. 18, 2017
CAIRO – 18 October 2017: Divorces in the U.K. increased by 5.8 percent in 2015 compared to 2016, according to a statistical bulletin by the British Office for National Statistics released on Wednesday. The statistics office reported that in 2016, the highest divorce rate was amongst men aged 45-49 and women in their thirties. However, divorce rates in 2016 remained 30 percent lower than the most recent peak in 2003.

Couples marrying in their teens and early twenties were at greater risk of divorce. Moreover, the Divorce Reform Act in the U.K. in 1971 made it easier for couples to divorce upon separation, which led to a large increase in divorce rates in 1972.

Number of marriages and divorces in U.K. 1950-2016 – Source: Office for National Statistics
According to the bulletin, 61 percent of the cases were initiated by women. The most common grounds for couples divorcing was unreasonable behavior, which can include having a relationship with someone else, with 36 percent of all men and 51 percent of all women applying for divorce on this ground. Other reasons were related to rising levels of household debt and stagnating wages that put a strain on marriages.

The highest percentage of divorces was among men and women aged 45 to 49, with an average (mean) age at divorce of 46.1 for men and 43.7 for women. The statistics show that more women than men were divorced under the age of 45, changing the pattern from 2015 and reflecting that, on average, men marry women who are younger than themselves.

Number of marriages and divorces in U.K. 1950-2016 – Source: Office for National StatisticsAverage (mean) age at divorce for men and women 1936 – 2016
The median duration of marriage for granted divorces to couples in 2016 was 12 years, compared to 11.9 years in 2015. The reported statistics show that the median duration of marriage remained stable over the last 50 years, ranging between 8.9 and 12.2 years. Moreover, the bulletin shows that the cumulative percentage of marriages that end in divorce increases more rapidly in the first 10 years of marriage than the 10 years after that, while it increases less rapidly once the 20th wedding anniversary is reached.

The Office for National Statistics derives the information from court records. It doesn’t include information on divorces related to marriages that were not legally valid in the first place (annulments) or information on couples who separate but don’t divorce. The court records include information on divorces of marriages that took place abroad, provided being recognized in the U.K. and one of the parties had a permanent home in England.
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