Nearly half of marriages in England and Wales still end in divorce, official figures show.
Last year, 117,558 couples formally ended their unions. This is a fall of 1.7pc on the figure for 2010 when 119,589 marriages were annulled or dissolved.
A breakdown of the figures found 10.8 married people in every 1,000 legally separated last year, compared with 12.9 people in every 1,000 in 2001.
This takes the divorce rate back to that seen in the 1970s, The Marriage Foundation said.
Analysis of figures – based on marriage, divorce and mortality data for 2010 – show an estimated 42pc of marriages end in divorce, compared with 45pc in 2005.
The divorce rate in Northern Ireland also decreased from 2,600 to 2,343 during the same period – a fall of 9.9pc.
The figures show a "general decline" in divorce since 2003.
Harry Benson, of The Marriage Foundation, said: "The longer term trend in divorce rates remains downwards.
"After peaking in the 1990s, divorce rates are very definitely back at 1970s levels."