The number of divorces in England and Wales has fallen to the lowest rate for 29 years, according to the Office for National Statistics.
In 2008, the divorce rate in England and Wales fell to 11.5 divorcing people per 1,000 married population compared with the 2007 figure of 11.8, a fall of 2.5 per cent. The divorce rate is at its lowest level since 1979 when it was 11.2.
For the fourth consecutive year, both men and women in their late twenties had the highest divorce rates of all five-year age groups. In 2008 there were 26.3 divorces per 1,000 married men aged 25 to 29 and 27.8 divorces per 1,000 married women aged 25 to 29. This compared with 16.8 divorces per 1,000 married men aged 45 to 49 and 14.6 divorces per 1,000 married women aged 45 to 49 in 2008.
Since 1998 the average age at divorce in England and Wales has risen from 40.4 to 43.9 years for men and from 37.9 to 41.4 years for women, partly reflecting the rise in age at marriage.
One in five men and women divorcing in 2008 had a previous marriage ending in divorce. This proportion has almost doubled since 1981 when 11 per cent of men and women divorcing had a previous marriage ending in divorce. Sixty-nine per cent of divorces in 2008 were to couples where the marriage was the first for both parties.
For 67 per cent of divorces in 2008, the wife was granted the divorce. For all divorces granted to an individual (rather than jointly to both), behaviour was the most common reason for divorce.