Divorce rates & statistics in the UK (England & Wales) 2022

Originally published on 23rd February 2024 at 10:57 AM
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We have summarised below the latest divorce/dissolution findings from the 2022 study conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which used the most recent divorce/dissolution data available (2022).

Here are the key statistics:

  • Divorce rates in England and Wales witnessed a significant decline in 2022
  • There were 80,057 divorces granted during 2022, marking a large 29.5% decrease from the previous year (113,505 divorces)

This not only signifies a substantial drop but also represents the lowest number of divorces since 1971. Below is a diagram of divorce rates for males and females per 1,000 of the married population aged 16 years and over, England and Wales, 1950 to 2022:

Let's dive into the key factors and trends that have contributed to this shift in the landscape of marital separations…

The substantial decrease in divorce rates is evident from the statistics, with 2022 recording a divorce rate of 6.7 for men and 6.6 for women per 1,000 of the married population. This is a significant drop from the rates in 2021, which stood at 9.5 for men and 9.4 for women per 1,000 of the married population.

Key statistics for civil partnership dissolutions

In addition to the decline in divorces, there was also a notable decrease in civil partnership dissolutions. The numbers dropped by 22.8% in 2022, with 525 dissolutions compared to 680 in the previous year.

The statistics suggest a considerable change in the dynamics of marriages and relationships, prompting us to explore the reasons behind this trend.

Same-sex couples: key statistics

  • Same-sex divorces also decreased, to 1,298 in 2022
  • This is a decrease of 17.4% compared with 1,571 same-sex divorces in 2021, which is the first year in which we have seen a decrease since the introduction of same-sex marriage in 2014
  • Previously, same-sex divorces increased year on year from 22 in 2015 to 1,571 in 2021
  • A higher proportion of same-sex divorces, 15.4% (200), were granted under the new law in 2022, compared with opposite-sex divorces. Of these, 69.0% were granted to female couples.
  • The majority (60.9%) of divorces granted to female same-sex couples under the new law were applied for by a sole applicant; with 39.1% applying jointly.
  • Whereas 46.8% of male same-sex couples granted a divorce under the new law were applied for by a sole applicant, compared with 53.2% of male couples applying jointly.

Key stats explained

One of the significant factors influencing the divorce rates in 2022 is the introduction of no-fault divorce, which came into effect on April 6, 2022. This legislation brought about essential changes, including new mandatory waiting periods, allowing couples to end a partnership jointly, and the removal of grounds for divorce.

7,394 divorces and 54 dissolutions were granted under this new act, indicating a shift in legal proceedings and possibly influencing the overall decrease in divorce rates.

Why is the rise of joint applications important?

Among the divorces and dissolutions granted under no-fault divorce, 28.8% of no-fault divorces and 61.1% of no-fault dissolutions were granted under joint application.

This reflects a shift towards a more collaborative approach to separation, emphasising mutual agreement, understanding and empathy.

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