The rate of divorce in England and Wales is lower than it has been for 22 years and currently stands at just over 12 for every 1000 married men and women. This second annual fall may indicate a reluctance among married couples whose own parents were divorced to inflict the same experience on their own children.
However, the figures from the Office for National Statistics show that growing numbers of the over 60s are still filing for divorce.
Divorce rates were highest among people in their late twenties – although overall, the average age of people divorcing was higher, at 40.9 years for women and 43.4 for men.
There was also a drop in the number of divorces, a reflection of a long-term decline in the number of marriages. Last year 132,562 married couples divorced – a drop of 6.5% on 2005.
However, the lower divorce rate is probably disguising the true picture of family breakdown, because the statistics do not show the high number of cohabitees who split up. Last year 125,000 children aged under-16 experienced their parents divorcing. A similar number of children experienced their cohabiting parents going their separate ways.
In Scotland there was a near-20% surge in the number of divorces. This hike could be the result of a sharp cut in the required separation period that came into effect in Scotland in May last year.