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Source: Office for National Statistics: Vital statistics in the UK: births, deaths and marriages 


  • The chart shows the number of divorces in England and Wales of opposite-sex couples between 1930 and 2014, and the combined number of divorces for both opposite- and same-sex couples between 2015 and 2019.
  • Divorce statistics do not include married couples who separate, but do not divorce.
  • The first divorces of same-sex couples were recorded in 2015.
  • Divorce statistics are derived from information recorded by the courts, during the divorce process. Figures represent both divorces and annulments that took place in each country; A marriage is dissolved, following a petition for divorce and the granting of a decree absolute, or annulled, following a petition for nullity and the awarding of a decree of nullity. Figures represent the date the decree absolute or the decree of nullity was awarded.


Key dates 
1937Matrimonial Causes Act
Divorce was permitted on additional grounds.
1939 - 1945Second World War
Divorce Reform Act
Removed the need to prove 'fault' in order to end a marriage.
Matrimonial Causes Act
Divorce could be obtained through civil proceedings.
1984Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act
Set a minimum time interval between marriage and divorce to one year, down from three years.
White v. White
A landmark case in the distribution of finances after divorce.