Divorce Rates 200 Times Higher Than A Century Ago, Figures Reveal

PA/The Huffington Post UK  |  Posted: 11/04/2012 18:35 Updated: 11/04/2012 18:35

More than 200 times the number of couples divorce today than a century ago, despite there being fewer couples marrying, statistics reveal.

England and Wales also now have lower birth rates, fewer marriages, and more children born out of wedlock each year.

The figures have been released by the Office of National Statistics as they commemorate the anniversary of the Titanic sinking.

The data indicates a nation whose values have shifted dramatically over the last hundred years.

The stark contrast emerged after contemporary data was compared to that taken from the 74th Annual Report of the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages in England and Wales in 1911.

In 1911, the population of England and Wales was 36,070,492, a number which has almost doubled to 62,262,000 in 2010.

There has also been a drop in birth rates with 843,505 "legitimate" and 37,633 "illegitimate" births registered in 1911 - equivalent to 24.4 per 1,000 of the population.

Fewer babies were born in 2010 than the year prior to the Titanic sailing, with 723,165 being born last year with the crude birth rate down to 13.1 per 1,000 of population. Of these births only 384,375 were within a marriage or civil partnership, with 338,790 which would previously have been classed as "illegitimate".

There were also more deaths in 1911 than in 2010, 527,810 to 493,242.

Despite the leap in population, there were fewer marriages in 2010 than when the Titanic sailed.

In 1911, there were 274,943 marriages recorded, a rate of 15.2 persons married per 1,000 of the population at all ages. In contrast 2010 saw a provisional figure of 241,100 marriages, or 8.7 persons marrying per thousand unmarried population aged 16 and over.

In contrast, divorce has increased from 580 couples in 1911 to 119,589 in 2010, equivalent to 11.1 per every 1,000 married people.

The Titanic struck an iceberg and sank on April 15 1912 while on her maiden voyage between Southampton and New York. More than 1,500 people died in the disaster.

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  • Celebrity Divorces: What We Can Learn From Them

    Expert tips from a partner and the National Head of Family Law at <a href="http://www.rjw.co.uk/" target="_hplink">Russell Jones and Walker</a>, <strong>Amanda McAlister</strong>.

  • Custody Of Children: Heidi Klum & Seal

    "A UK court would regard this seven year marriage as being relatively short-lived and this would inform their conclusions regarding the division of marital assets," explains Amanda. "However, it has been suggested Heidi will file for divorce in California which is a community property state, meaning property, real or personal, wherever situated, acquired by a married person during the marriage while domiciled in the state is community property. Therefore the court will divide the community estate of the parties equally. "The couple have children together, so there will be maintenance to be considered. Californian law states that both parents of a minor child have an equal responsibility to support their child in the manner suitable to the child's circumstances. It's known that Heidi's career has been in the ascendency during the period of the marriage - reputably earning $12M last year - and thus she may be vulnerable financially. "California recognises the legal validity of prenuptial agreements however so if the couple drew up such an agreement then things might be very different."

  • Short Marriage: Kim Kardashian

    After being married a total of 72 days, reality TV star Kim Kardashian filed for divorce from her new husband, Kris Humphries. "This marriage took place under American family law and are therefore different to English family law, where the couple must be married for a minimum of one year before either side can petition for divorce. "Under English family law, Kim Kardashian could consider pursuing an annulment of the marriage, perhaps on the grounds of wilful non-consummation or one party not giving valid consent to a marriage because such consent was given under duress."

  • No Prenup: Katy Perry

    This is a very short marriage - around 14 months. It's known that Russell Brand filed for divorce in California but it is not known if the couple drew up a prenup. "However, many divorcing couples are influenced by factors other than financial considerations and a divorce lawyer must be sensitive to this when giving advice. Having myself recently returned from a holiday in America where Katy Perry is enormously popular, I imagine his lawyer may well be tempted to counsel him to proceed with caution regarding their joint assets."

  • Custody Of Children: Madonna

    When Madonna divorced her husband Guy Richie, she not only had to deal with a multimillion dollar divorce settlement (rumoured to be in the region of $76-92 million) but the custody of her and Guy's two sons Rocco, 11, and David Banda, 5, too. "When a married couple with children divorce, both parents have equal rights regarding parental responsibility," explains Amanda. "In the vast majority of cases, the couple will agree arrangements between them but if they can't do this, the case goes to court and the judge will decide which parent best meets the physical, emotional and education needs of the child or children (amongst a number of other considerations). "It was reported that Madonna wished to take their three children to live with her in America and Guy decided to agree to this arrangement, although there are numerous complex issues to be considered when one parent wishes to establish residency in a country where the other parent does not reside. In the past, the judiciary, particularly Lord Denning, generally took the position that the children would always be best residing with the mother. "Now the courts are now moving towards shared care arrangements, although a joint residence order does not necessarily mean the children will spend equal time with each parent. Having said that, David Norgrove, the government's legal advisor on family law, issued the long awaited <a href="http://www.justice.gov.uk/about/moj/independent-reviews/family-justice-review/" target="_hplink">Family Justice Review</a> which ruled against giving fathers shared or equal time with their children following a relationship breakdown. "Ultimately, the courts will always put the welfare of the child before the perceived "rights" of the parent."

  • Cheating: Tiger Woods

    After the golfer's shameful cheating past was revealed, his Swedish wife Elin Nordegren decided to divorce him under unreasonable grounds - as well as walking away with a rumoured $750 settlement. "If one half a couple is unfaithful, a divorce can be sought on the grounds of adultery or unreasonable behaviour," says Amanda. "The problem with the former is establishing proof that adultery has taken place. If, for example, Elin had said her husband had committed adultery with another woman in a particular hotel room, he could respond that yes, he was with the woman in the hotel room but sex did not take place. "In the absence of irrefutable proof - a baby, for example, or photographic evidence - Elin might then have chosen to divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour but include the alleged liaison in the body of her petition as she would then not be required to prove the act. Finances are unrelated to divorce petitions citing adultery as the cause of the marital breakdown. "However, it has been argued successfully in some divorce cases that adulterous behaviour has lead to a decline in the fortunes in the marital pot of money, so to speak, leading to a different division of assets."

  • Custody Of Pets: Cheryl Cole

    When <i>Girls Aloud</i> star Cheryl Cole divorced her footballer husband Ashley Cole, it wasn't their multimillion pound Surrey home or flash cars that Cheryl wanted - but their shared Chihuahuas. Cheryl got full custody of their dogs Coco and Buster. "There is no law or legal guidance that deals with pets, although as an issue it comes up a lot," explains Amanda. "Essentially, if one half of the couple desperately wants to keep the family cat and the other half refuses to give the cat up, then in all probability there will have to be a trade-off in some other area of the divorce."

  • Division Of The Assets: Roman Abramovich

    When Billionaire Roman divorced his long-time wife Irina, he had to pay her $300 million in assets, plus his various homes and monetary assets. "Firstly, be absolutely up front about disclosure. Hiding assets or lying about income simply drags out the process. Secondly, consider trying mediation or collaboration. Most importantly, go into negotiations with the attitude that the division of assets must be fair. "Unfortunately, not many couples do so," says Amanda.