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Divorce rate drops to lowest level since 1984

Date: 2007-09-01

The divorce rate in England and Wales fell to its lowest level in more than two decades, according to new statistics out today.

Paul McCartney and Heather Mills
Bucking the trend: Paul McCartney and Heather Mills

Figures gathered by the Office For National Statistics show that the rate dropped by seven per cent last year compared with the previous 12 months.

That means that the 132,562 marriage break ups represent less than 13 divorces for every thousand married couples, the lowest level since 1984.

But the data also shows that the number of serial divorcees has more than doubled in the last quarter of a century.

One in five men and women divorcing in 2006 had a previous marriage ending in divorce.

This proportion has doubled in 25 years. In 1981 just over one in ten men and women divorcing had a previous marriage ending in divorce.

Compared with 2005, divorce rates in England and Wales for both men and women fell across all age groups, apart from men aged 60 and over, where there was a small increase.

For the fifth consecutive year both men and women in their late twenties had the highest divorce rates of all five-year age groups.

In 2006, there were 26 divorces per 1,000 married men aged 25-29 and 27.3 divorces per 1,000 married women aged 25-29.

Meanwhile between 2005 and 2006, the number of divorces granted in the United Kingdom as a whole fell by 4.5 per cent to 148,141, from 155,052.

This is the second consecutive drop in the number of UK divorces and the lowest number since 1977.

The figure is 18 per cent lower than the highest number of divorces, which peaked in 1993 (180,018).

While the number of divorces in England and Wales fell by 6.5 per cent to 132,562 in 2006, accounting for the fall in the UK overall, divorces in both Scotland (13,014) and Northern Ireland (2,565) increased in 2006 by 19 per cent and 9 per cent respectively.

The rise in Scotland may be due in part to an amendment to the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006.

By Richard Alleyne
copyright of Telegraph Media Group ( telegraph.co.uk )





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