NEWPORT, WALES -- Divorce may be a lot more common in the western world than it was a few decades ago, but that doesn't mean it's perpetually on the rise everywhere. In fact, a newdivorce statisticsreport released this week states that the United Kingdom's divorce rate is steadily decreasing. In England and Wales, the rate is at its lowest in 29 years.
According to the U.K.'s Office for National Statistics, which authored the report, the divorce rate for England and Wales decreased from 11.8 to 11.5 per 1,000 married people over 2008. This is the lowest rate in both countries since 1979, which saw a rate of 11.2 divorces per 1,000. The total number of divorces in and decreased from 128,232 to 121,779 in 2008.
In Scotland, there was a 10% decrease in the divorce rate over the same period, or a decrease in the total number of divorces from 12,810 to 11,474. Northern Ireland saw its divorce rate go down by 4.8%, with the total number of dissolutions down from 2,913 to 2,773, the report reveals.
"Although the majority of people who contact a lawyer with marital problems go on to divorce their partner at some stage," Britishdivorce lawyerMartin Loxley told the BBC this week in response to the new report, "we have seen an increase in the number marriages saved through counseling and therapy." He also pointed out that "it was widely expected that divorce levels would rise in 2008 as a result of the strains and stresses added by the recession."
But another divorce lawyer, Ayesha Vardag, had a different explanation. "Our experience is that fewer couples are divorcing because fewer are marrying," he told the BBC. "This comes partly from the increased social acceptability of living together and having children outside marriage, and partly from anxiety about the unpredictable financial consequences of marriage."
The Office for National Statistics' research also found that the age group with the highest divorce rate was people in their late 20s. On top of that, the percentage of divorcees who had already been divorced at least once is now twice what it was in 1981.
About 50% of U.K. divorcing couples had at least onechildunder the age of 16. And of the divorce decrees that were awarded to one ex-partner (as opposed to a joint decree for both), roughly two-thirds were decided in the wife's favor.