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Facts and figures: grounds for divorce since the 1969 Divorce Reform Act in England and Wales

Date:29 JUL 2018
Third slide
Associate Fellow
The trends in divorce by fact proven are traced from 1971, when the Divorce Reform Act 1969 was enacted in England and Wales. The background to the Act is explored in John Haskey’s article for the August 2018 issue of Family Law ([2018] Fam Law 1006) and because of renewed interest and advocacy for entirely fault-free divorce, attention is paid to the two separation facts, and what may have influenced their use, or non-use. The likely factors influencing the observed trends are discussed.

For the last 30 years, over one half of divorces granted to wives have been on their husbands’ unreasonable behaviour, whilst in recent years the most used facts by husbands divorcing their wives have been unreasonable behaviour and 2 years’ separation (earlier it was wives’ adultery). Overall, since 1971, husbands have used both separation facts relatively more than wives, but wives have used unreasonable behaviour relatively more than husbands. The combined 'no-fault' facts was decreasingly used after 1971 up to 1991, a definite turning point, after which it grew steadily as a proportion of all divorces, returning recently to almost exactly that observed in 1973.

The unsatisfactory aspects of current petitioning are examined, and some considerations and implications for future divorce law reform, including the proposed 'notification' divorce, are discussed, and conclusions drawn.

The research contained within John's article was covered by Frances Gibb in The Times.

The full version of this article appears in the August 2018 issue of Family Law

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