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Divorce on a downward trend

According to the ONS, in 2016, there were 8.9 divorces of opposite-sex couples per 1,000 married men and women aged 16 and over (divorce rates), an increase of 4.7% since 2015; however, divorce rates in 2016 are over 20% lower than the recent peak in divorce rate in 2003 and 2004.

In opposite-sex marriages, the divorce rate was highest for women in their 30s and men aged between 45 and 49.

ONS spokeswoman Nicola Haines said: "Although the number of divorces of opposite-sex couples in England and Wales increased by 5.8% in 2016 compared with 2015, the number remains 30% lower than the most recent peak in 2003; divorce rates for men and women have seen similar changes."

However, Harry Benson, the Research Director of Marriage Foundation suggests that the information conceals the overall downward trend in divorce.  In a statement to Premier, he said:

"The headline rise in divorces during 2016 conceals the reality that the long term trend in divorce continues to head downwards. The most recent couples to complete five years of marriage – who got married in 2011 – have experienced 42 per cent fewer divorces than their counterparts who married twenty years earlier in 1991.

"So today's newlyweds are doing better than any couples who married since the early 1970s. They are also doing far better than their counterparts who don't marry.

"It's easy to focus on divorce because marriages and divorces are easy to count. But it's not divorce that has put Britain at the bottom of the family stability league for the entire developed world.

"It's the much higher break-up rates among couples who don't marry, don't divorce, and are therefore harder to count. "

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