Divorce figures fall to lowest number since 1974

Wedding rings It is the sixth consecutive year that the number of divorces has fallen in England and Wales

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The number of divorces in England and Wales is down to its lowest level since 1974, according to official figures.

The latest Office for National Statistics data showed there were 113,949 divorces in 2009 compared with 121,708 the previous year, a 6.4% fall.

The number of couples getting divorced has fallen for six years in a row from a high of 153,065 in 2003.

The average age for divorce increased very slightly for both men and women, to 44 and 41.5 respectively in 2009.

The divorce rate also fell in 2009 to 10.5 people per 1,000 of those married - from 11.2 per 1,000 the previous year - the lowest rate since 1977 when the figure was 10.3 per 1,000.

Those in their late 20s had the highest divorce rates of 21.7 men and 25.1 women per 1,000 married people.

The number of divorces granted in the UK as a whole - which includes figures from the General Register Office for Scotland and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency - fell by 7% in 2009 to 126,496 compared with 135,994 in 2008.

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