FOI REF: FOI/2023/4983

You asked

Please may I make an FOI request for the following information:

  • How many divorces in the UK were filed in the year 2021?

  • How many divorces in the UK were filed in the year 2022?

  • What percentage, from both 2021 and 2022, was pursued by one spouse? And what percentage of divorces were pursued by both spouses?

  • Can you please include a breakdown of what percentage of those filing for divorce fell into which household income bracket in 2021 and 2022? Below £50,000, above £50,000, above £100,000, and above £200,000 - for example.

  • Additionally, can you also provide a breakdown of the percentage of ages of those filing for divorce in 2021 and 2022? Up to 30, 30 to 50, 50 to 70, and 70+ - for instance.

We said

Thank you for your Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

The information we hold on divorces is for England and Wales only. To find information about divorces in Scotland and Northern Ireland, please refer to the following link of 'Related links' in our Divorces in England and Wales bulletin: Divorces in England and Wales 2021.

Divorces in 2021, England and Wales

We produce an annual dataset based on the number of divorces granted in England and Wales; please see the most recent edition (2021-based). Please download the 2021 edition of the dataset, and see Table 1 within it. From table 1, we estimate a total of 113,505 divorces were granted in England and Wales in 2021. Please note that figures represent both divorces and annulments that took place in England and Wales, and also note that these estimates are not for the whole of the UK.

Statistics on the number of petitions filed (including civil partnerships) are published quarterly by the Ministry of Justice; please see the most recent Family court statistics quarterly release. Table 12 provides applications (petitions filed) for all quarters of 2021 and for the first three quarters of 2022. Table 13 provides the number of cases started.

Divorces in 2022, England and Wales

2022-based statistics for Divorces in England and Wales will be published in the future. As such, the information you have requested is exempt under Section 22(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, whereby information is exempt from release if there is a view to publish the information in the future. As a central government department and producer of official statistics, we need to have the freedom to be able to determine our own publication timetables. This is to allow us to deal with the necessary preparation, administration, and context of publications. It would be unreasonable to consider disclosure when to do so would undermine our functions.

This exemption is subject to a public interest test. We recognise the desirability of information being freely available and this is considered by ONS when publication schedules are set in accordance with the Code of Practice for Statistics. The need for timely data must be balanced against the practicalities of applying statistical skill and judgement to produce the high quality, assured data needed to inform decision-making. If this balance is incorrectly applied, then we run the risk of decisions being based on inaccurate data which is arguably not in the public interest. This will have an impact on public trust in official statistics in a time when accuracy of official statistics is more important to the public than ever before.

Percentage of divorces pursued by one spouse and percentage pursued by both spouses 2021 and 2022, England and Wales

From tables 6a and 6b in the above mentioned dataset published by ONS, a total of 111,703 opposite-sex divorces were granted to a sole party, and a total of 1,568 same-sex divorces were granted to a sole party. Therefore, a total of 113,271 divorces in 2021 were granted to a sole party in England and Wales. sole-party divorces granted therefore account for 99.8% of all divorces granted (including annulments).

Please see note 15 within the dataset ("This table excludes divorces which were granted to both parties jointly and annulments").

This information for 2022 will also be available in the future, and is therefore exempt under Section 22(1) of FOIA.

Percentage of divorces by household income bracket in 2021 and 2022

Unfortunately, we do not hold data on divorces by household income. HM Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) may be better placed to assist with this request. They can be contacted via email at

Divorces by age bracket, England and Wales

You will see from tables 3a, 3b, 4a and 4b in the dataset that we do not provide estimates for divorcees by age and sex in England and Wales for years 2020 and 2021. Please see note 4 (in the 'Notes') tab of the dataset, which explains the absence of these data: From the 2020 data year onwards, information about age and previous marital status is not available as it is no longer collected during the divorce and dissolution process. Our divorces data tables which previously presented statistics by age and marital status therefore do not show this information for the 2020 or 2021 data years.

We also do not have these data for the year 2022.

When accessing any of our files please read the 'notes, terms and conditions' contained within them.