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Did you know?

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

England and Wales

42% of marriages end in divorce (ONS, 2013)

More than 235,000 people divorced in 2011 (ONS, 2012)

Almost half of divorces involve children under 16yrs  (ONS, 2012)

The average age of people divorcing in 2011 was 44.5 yrs for men and 42.1yrs for women (ONS, 2012)

66% of divorces were on petition of the wife (ONS, 2012)

Of every divorce in 2011 – it was the first divorce for both partners in 70.1% of cases, while in 19.7% one party had been divorced previously, and in 9.6% of cases both had divorced previously (ONS, 2012)

Second marriages are more likely to be successful than first marriages. If one or both partners are remarrying they have a 31% chance of divorce, compared to 45% if it is both partners? first time (Benson, 2013)


Across the England and Wales the number and percentage of people not currently living in a couple following separation, legal divorce or civil-partnership dissolution breaks down as follows:

  • North east: 190,419 people, making up 9.1% of the adult population
  • North west: 514,154 people, making up 9.2% of the adult population
  • Yorkshire and the Humber: 363,197 people, making up 8.7% of the adult population
  • East midlands: 303,528 people, making up 8.4% of the adult population
  • West midlands: 372,498 people, making up 8.4% of the adult population
  • East: 388,364 people, making up 8.4% of the adult population
  • London: 563,470 people, making up 8.8% of the adult population
  • South east: 576,657 people, making up 8.5% of the adult population
  • South west: 371,780 people, making up 8.7% of the adult population
  • Wales: 220,281 people, making up 9.0% of the adult population


Over 120,00 families with dependent children separated in 2013:

  • About half were married couple families (1.3% of 4.7 million married families), and half were from cohabiting couples (5.3% of 1.2 million cohabiting families) United Kingdom (Benson, 2013)

In 2010-11, one third of all children aged 16 and under were not living with both of their birth parents:

  • This ranged from 15% not living with both parents for children aged less than 1 year old, increasing steadily with age up to 47% for 16 year olds.
  • When split by family income, the number of all children aged 16 and under living without both biological parents was 55% for low income households compared to 27% for those in middle/high income families. United Kingdom (DWP, 2013)

8% of families in England and Wales are stepfamilies (540,00 families) England & Wales (ONS, 2014)

3% of families in Northern Ireland are stepfamilies (14,000 families)

Almost 25% of families in the UK are lone parent families United Kingdom (ONS, 2013e)

44% of resident parents said their child either splits their time equally, or sees their other parent at least weekly. United Kingdom (Peacey, 2008)

29% of resident parents said that their child never sees their other parent, and 20% of all resident parents said that their child has not seen their other parent since separation. United Kingdom (Peacey, 2008)

Including families with and without child contact, only 35 per cent of all resident parents and 27 per cent of all non-resident parents said they felt child contact frequency was about right at present.

Source: Relate

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