The latest divorce statistics for the UK
Divorce is on the decrease according to statistics released by the Office For National Statistics for 2011.
In 2011 the number of divorces in England and Wales decreased by 1.7% to 117,558 compared with 119,589 in 2010. This continues the ongoing decline in divorces since 2003 when there were 153,065 divorces recorded by both the Office For National Statistics and the Ministry of Justice Fam man system.
The decline in the number of filed divorces is consistent with a fall in the number of people getting married to 2009.
The fall in marriages to 2009 is more than likely due to the increasing number of couples choosing to cohabit rather than get married.
The number of divorces continued to rise between 1931 and 1990 as a result of changes in behaviour and attitudes in society in general. However since the start of the “great recession” in 2008 the number of divorces recorded has declined dramatically.
Divorce rates in percentages
In 2011, 10.8 people divorced per thousand married population, compared with 12.9 in 2001. Similar decreases in the male and female divorce rates have also taken place since 2001. The male divorce rate decreased to 10.8 divorces per thousand married males, down from 13.0 in 2001.
The female divorce rate reached 10.8 divorces per thousand married females, down from 12.9 in 2001.
Age of couple when getting a divorce in 2011
At younger ages there were more women than men divorcing; however, in older age groups more men than women divorced. This pattern
reflects the differences seen in age at marriage of men and women (the provisional average age for
men marrying in 2010 was 36.2 years compared with 33.6 for women). In 2011, the number of
divorces was highest among men and women aged 40 to 44.
According to information from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the divorce and annulment rate in 2009 was 3.5 divorces for every 1,000 people in the U.S. population. Though divorce is culturally prevalent in the United States, its negative economic and health effects on families are often felt for many years.
Divorce has many economic disadvantages, both on the personal and national level. A study conducted by four family and marriage advocacy organizations suggests that divorce and family fragmentation costs taxpayers more than 112 billion every year. The legal process of divorce itself can cost thousands, not to mention additional legal costs to enforce the divorce settlement agreement in some situations. Furthermore, both men and women suffer financially after a divorce, though women incur the most financial strain with an average 30 percent decline in their standard of living, as reported by Pamela J. Smock in her demography, “The Economic Costs of Marital Disruption for Young Women over the Past Two Decades.”
The effects of divorce reach far beyond money. There are many health consequences related to divorce that can affect a fragmented family both mentally and physically. Studies published in the “American Journal of Sociology” and the “Journal of Marriage and the Family” suggest that divorced men in most developed countries have twice the premature mortality rate of married men, and divorced women are also more likely to die at an early age than married women. Additionally, the years following a divorce present a greater risk of depression and other mental health disorders.
The effects of divorce on children depend on the age of the child at the time of the divorce. According to the University of New Hampshire, infants and toddlers seem to experience the fewest effects from a parent’s divorce, though many may experience appetite suppression or moodiness. Children older than 3, however, have greater difficulty adjusting to the separation and might believe that they are somehow responsible for their parents’ divorce. Both elementary-aged children and adolescents might act out with anger or suffer from mental anguish or depression. Some might experience divided loyalty between their divorced parents.
Helping Children Adjust
Parents can do a lot to help their children adjust to divorce. Ex-spouses should minimize their conflict and avoid speaking negatively of each other in front of their children. Talking with children about the effects of the divorce might help alleviate fears of the future and reassure insecure children of their innocence in causing their parents’ separation. Some children might need counseling or help from a support group. Though divorced adults are no longer married, they remain co-parents to their children and should do their best to maintain consistency in discipline and school involvement.
When Children are Used as Pawns in Divorce
It is understandable that by the time two people are ready for divorce there are many angry, resentful and bitter feelings accumulated during the course of the marital relationship. Very few divorces are friendly and amicable with the former spouses becoming friends. Of course this does happen but it is more the exception than the rule. Having children to consider and care for does not seem to mediate the types of behavior displayed by many former spouses. In fact, all too often, the most resentful and angry of the two divorcing parents are all too willing to display a vindictiveness directed against the other parent by using the children as weapons in the divorce and post divorce war. These types of vengeful parents do not seem to understand that the only victims of this type of behavior are the children.
During my years as a psychotherapist I have experienced many cases in which parents wage bitter custody battles against one another. In these battles, one parent is attempting to obtain sole custody of the children while severely restricting the visiting rights of the other parent. Under these circumstances you might be led to believe that the battle was being waged against someone who was alcohol and drug addicted and was abusive to the children. At least that would make some sense of the angry situation. However, in all too many cases there is no such addictive or abusive process going on. Rather, the motivation of the vindictive parent is to exact revenge against the other parent for sins having been committed between the two of them and having to do with their relationship and having nothing to do with any legal or violent issues. For example, an angry wife and mother may feel so entirely disappointed by the divorce that she is swept away by anger, rage and the desire to punish the former spouse by demanding sole custody.
Another scenario is when each of the parents places the children in the middle of their conflict by attempting to turn them against the other parent. They will do all they can to devalue and demonize the other parent in the eyes of the child. The wish is to win the child to their own side so that they will be permanently allied with them against the other.
Perhaps the worst case situation is the one in which the divorce takes place, the mother gains custody, the father moves away and a curtain of silence falls between the children and the absent father. While this is less likely to occur today in the age of equally shard custody, it does happen and with tragic consequences for the children. What are these tragic consequences?
First, children identify with each of their parents. If they are made to believe that one parent is evil they will come to believe that this is true of them, as well. How can it not be so? If that is my father or mother and I have been told that he or she is a bad person then it must be true of me as well since I am their child.
Second, it is common for children to misunderstand what is happening between alienated parents and to blame themselves for their troubles. They are also quick to believe that one or both parents are leaving home because he, the child, is not loved. In some cases, a child who witnesses a parent packing and moving may fear that he, the child will be told to leave home forever. Young children, with fragile emotions and dependent upon nurturing and love may pretend that they do not care that the one parent has left and throw themselves even more upon the parent who is present.
For the child who experiences the loss of a parent because that parent has been successfully blocked from participation in the child’s life the consequences are worst. Most frequently but no always the parent who vanishes is the father. The child is left to imagine what became of the missing parent.
In fact, many studies show that divorce can result in children growing into adults who have low self-esteem and more depression and anxiety compared to those who were raised by both parents whether the marriage remained intact or there was shared custody.
It is really important that divorcing parents communicate with the children that they are loved by both Mom and Dad and that the divorce is not caused by the children. It is also important to communicate confidence in the other parent and that Mom and Dad just cannot get along together and that these things happen but that they are safe with and loved by each parent.
Divorce is difficult enough for everyone without embroiling the kids in the angry politics of the adults.
Divorce in Middle-Age
Rebecca is a middle-aged woman who is recently divorced. She and her husband were married for 25 years when he told her he wanted a divorce because he is in love with someone else. For the past few years, Rebecca was unhappy in her marriage, but she never thought that they would divorce. She became accustomed to her life and it’s routine. Rebecca had no idea that her husband was cheating on her and so his revelation came as a total surprise.
She is now living alone and wondering what will become of her life. Her family and friends are there for her, with her married children living close by. Rebecca continues to work part-time at the same job she’s held for seven years. Financially, she is okay, but not as monetarily “comfortable” as when she was married.
Rebecca is not that different from many people; nor are her circumstances.
Little research has been conducted on divorce in later adulthood, despite the fact that the divorce rate for people aged 50 and older has doubled between 1990 and 2010. In 2010, 25% of the divorces in the United States were among this older aged group. Possible implications for divorce in people this age range include
Financial stress (particularly for women)
Changes in parent-adult child relationships
More reliance on children for social support, including caretaking
Decreased interaction and change in the quality of the relationship (particularly for fathers)
In addition, recently divorced people from long-term marriages may be facing challenging situations that can be stressful and socially upsetting. The following psychological issues often occur or are affected:
Satisfaction with one’s life
Perception of one’s health
Rebecca’s recent divorce and the nature of her recovery place her at a crossroads. She is about to enter a new chapter in the book of her life that SHE will be writing. She can write about a life aimed toward fulfilment and growth or one of regret and stagnation.
It is unrealistic to believe that Rebecca will have no problems adapting to her new life after the divorce. The factors that contribute to making a successful transition include:
Personality traits, such as being open and extroverted
Engaging in activities that encourage personal growth
Moving away from a feeling of vulnerability or resignation to one’s life
Another important factor that can help people recover from the effects of divorce is having self-compassion.
If you blame yourself or feel overwhelmed by negative thoughts, forgive yourself so that you can move on to a better place.
Self-compassion assists in coping with stressful life events.
The dissolution of a marriage is not a trivial event. It is a major life stressor regardless of age and duration of marriage. Personal and social interactions are critical as they not only provide support, but also offer an opportunity for others to observe the divorced person’s mental and physical health. If the individual is experiencing debilitating symptoms that do not diminish, professional treatment—medical and/or mental health—should be sought.
Rebecca is fortunate because she has the support of her family and friends. She is employed and has a means of providing for her material needs. However, she has also experienced the loss of a long-term relationship and lifestyle. Her previous unhappiness in the marriage can now be at an end, if she so chooses. Although she was not the one to initiate the change, she can still be the beneficiary. It all depends on how and whether she wishes to adapt.
It’s not easy to make life-changes; particularly, if you are set in your ways. However, life is full of ups and downs—learning how to handle the negative experiences is the key to a healthy outcome. Seldom can an individual successfully navigate the negative experiences alone; we all need help. But, it is still up to the individual to decide HOW they will travel on this journey and write their “book of life.”
Mourn the loss or celebrate it. Adapt, exist, or regress. Learn more about yourself and your inner strengths or choose to remain unenlightened. Rejoice in your evolution and the new opportunities coming your way or fear change. Play a role in your destiny or relinquish all control to the Fates. Just remember, it really is your story to write. Hopefully, it will reveal a life lived fully and happily.