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Revealed: The UK cities with the most divorcées

The Census 2021 (released March 2023) breaks down which regions of the country have the highest rates of divorce, as well as the age groups those people belong to.

Hong Kong's top court will decide on Tuesday if the city will recognise same-sex marriages
Hong Kong's top court will decide on Tuesday if the city will recognise same-sex marriages - Copyright AFP Philip FONG
Hong Kong's top court will decide on Tuesday if the city will recognise same-sex marriages - Copyright AFP Philip FONG

Divorces have been prominent in the news this year, including the high-profile splits of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, Sofia Vergara and Joe Mangiello, and most recently, Ariana Grande and Dalton Gomez.

In the UK, the divorce rate has been rising and it is estimated at around 42 percent of all marriages end in legal separation

Which age groups and which areas are most at risk of their marriage ending in divorce? Is it young couples that have rushed into their union? Or are older partners growing tired of their marriages?

The Census 2021 (released March 2023) breaks down which regions of the country have the highest rates of divorce, as well as the age groups those people belong to.

The family law specialists at Beecham Peacock have broken down the data by age groups and by region to assess which demographic sections of society are most likely to be listed as ‘divorced or formerly in a civil partnership’.  The output of the analysis has been provided to Digital Journal.

LocationAge groupPeople ‘divorced or formerly in a civil partnership’
County Durham55–597,235
County Durham60–646,490
County Durham50–546,440


Accounting for five of the Census 2021’s top 20 demographics, Birmingham is one of the U.K.’s leading hotspots for divorce. Birmingham has been one of the U.K.’s cities with the highest rate of divorce for at least a decade, having also topped the 2013 list of the most common locations to file for divorce.

As per the Census 2021, there were 9,325 people aged 55–59 living in Birmingham that registered their marital status as ‘divorced or formerly in a civil partnership’ – the largest demographic in the country.

A similar demographic accounts for the city occupying the second place on this list – there were 8,555 people aged 50–54 living in Birmingham also listed under this denomination. The data highlights that people living in Birmingham born between 1962 and 1971 are most likely to have separated. The population in the U.K.’s second largest city also accounts for positions three and five in the top 20 most-divorced demographics, with the 45–49, 60–64 and 65–69 age brackets also appearing in the top 20.

Across all age groups, the percentage of registered divorcees in Birmingham is 7.25 percent.


Cornwall was the location that appeared second-most frequently in the top 20 most-divorced demographics. The U.K.’s most-southerly county, Cornwall featured in five of the top 50 entries for the most-divorced demographics in the Census 2021.

Cornwall had 8,105 people aged 55-59 listed as divorced, the fifth-most in the country. There were also 7,585 people aged 60–64 listed as divorced, as well as 7,080 people aged 50–54. Older Cornish residents also made up a sizable section of the area’s divorced population. Of the divorced population, those aged 65–69 and 70–74 were registered as divorced 6,625 and 6,280 times respectively.

Across the entire location of Cornwall, there are 53,550 people registered as divorced, out of a total recorded population of 477,420 – indicating 11 percent of residents are divorced.


Appearing fourth on the list of most-divorced demographics from the Census 2021 is 55–59-year-olds living in Leeds. At the time of the census, Leeds was home to 8,310 people in this age bracket who fell into the ‘divorced or formerly in a civil partnership’ bracket.

Other age groups from Leeds appeared in the Census’ top 20: those aged 50–54, 60–64, and 65–69. Interestingly, across each of the top three cities that appear in the top 20, those aged between 50–70 remain the most likely to be divorced.

53,600 people in Leeds reported that they were divorced, and over 658,000 people are registered as Leeds residents, indicating that 8.13% of the population consider themselves divorced in Leeds.

The highest divorce rates

Despite having the highest numbers of divorcees, Birmingham, Cornwall and Leeds do not necessarily have the highest divorce rate when adjusted for their population. Norwich, in fact, has the UK’s highest divorce rate at 12.8 percent.

Hastings and Blackpool round out the top three places with the highest divorce rates, each with 12.1%. Interestingly, there don’t seem to be any regional trends to the divorce rates – there’s a lot of fluctuation between locations across the North and South.

Lauren Laverick, Solicitor at Beecham Peacock, explains in a message to Digital Journal: “Divorce is an increasingly common occurrence across the world, thanks in part to the growing prominence of ‘no-fault’ divorce legislation and thanks in part to the growing self-agency of women around the world. Like marriage, divorce is an event that should be seriously thought out and considered – but if you’ve made your mind up, choosing a reliable divorce solicitor can help guide you through the process and make your life easier.”

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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