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Figures from the Office for National Statistics

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show there were 119,589 divorces in England and Wales during 2010, an increase of 5 per cent on the previous year.

It means that one in three marriages now breaks down by the 15th anniversary, compared with a fifth in 1970, with more men and women in their early forties splitting up than in other age groups. The average marriage now lasts 11.4 years.

Half of the spouses had children under 16, while the proportion of divorcing men and women who have had previous failed marriages has doubled since 1980.

The increase in the number of divorces, the first since 2003, follows years of decline as more and more couples have chosen to live together rather than getting married.

It has surprised some commentators who believed couples could not afford to split up in tough economic times.


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