'Marked fall' in divorce rates

Divorce rates in England and Wales among men and women under 40 have fallen by 13% and 12% respectively since 2004, the Office of National Statistics has reported.

However, the ONS also found that men and women in their late twenties had the highest divorce rates of all five-year age groups for the fourth consecutive year.

Overall, the provisional divorce rate in England and Wales fell by 8% in 2005 to 141,750, compared with 153,399 in 2004.

This was the second year that divorces have fallen and is the lowest number since 2000 when there were 141,135 divorces.

The ONS found that one in five men and women divorcing in 2005 had a previous marriage ending in divorce.

This proportion has been increasing each year and has nearly doubled since 1981, the ONS said.

In 69% of divorces in 2005, the wife was granted the divorce, and in 53% of these cases the husband's behaviour was cited as the fact proven.

Where divorces were granted to the husband, the most common fact proven was two years' separation with consent.

Over half of couples divorcing in 2005 had at least one child aged under 16, the same as in 2004.

There were 136,332 children aged under 16 who were in families were the parents divorced in 2005.

One fifth of these children were under five and 63% were under eleven.

Divorces in the UK as a whole fell by 7% in 2005 to 155,052 compared with 167,138 in 2004. Divorces in Northern Ireland fell by 6% to 2,362 and in Scotland the drop was 3% to 10,940.


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