Divorce and cohabitation trends over the last 12 years

The Office for National Statistics has released new figures regarding the marital status and living arrangements of people aged 16 and over in England and Wales from 2002 to 2014.

The figures reveal that:-

  • In 2014, 51.5% of people aged 16 and over in England and Wales were married or in civil partnerships, while 33.9% were single, never married.
  • Between 2002 and 2014 the proportions of people aged 16 and over who were single or divorced increased but the proportions who were married or widowed decreased.
  • The increase between 2002 and 2014, in the percentage of the population who were divorced was driven by those aged 45 and over, with the largest percentages divorced at ages 50 to 64 in 2014.
  • In 2014 around one in eight adults in England and Wales were living in a couple but not currently married or civil partnered; cohabiting is most common in the 30 to 34 age group.
  • More women (18.9%) than men (9.8%) were not living in a couple having been previously married or civil partnered; this is due to larger numbers of older widowed women than men in England and Wales in 2014.

One of the reasons suggested for the rise in people over 45 seeking divorce is due to the fact that divorce has become much more socially acceptable, leaving behind much of the previous stigma attached to it.

Attitudes towards relationships have also changed and relaxed, leading the older generation to realise that separation can be amicable and they can still meet new people following separation and lead a more fulfilled life, rather than remaining in a relationship which is making them unhappy.

Social Media is also assisting people to find new ways to meet people, develop new hobbies and interests.

It is thought that the reason the 30 to 34 age group are more likely to cohabit is partly based on their attitudes to marriage. It is also linked to economic stresses throughout the country during the last six years.

Many cohabitants are not aware that the term “common law partners” is actually a fallacy. They may not be entitled to what they think they are in the event of separation. Cohabitation Agreements can assist with this and can deal with what should happen if the couple were to separate, including detailing the division of any jointly owned assets.

Without a Cohabitation Agreement it can sometimes be very expensive to untangle financial problems if a cohabiting couple separate because there is no straightforward legal framework to assist in deciding how assets should be shared following the breakdown of the relationship.

If you require advice in relation to Cohabitation Agreements, separation, Divorce or any other family matters, please telephone Emery Johnson Astills on 0116 255 4855 and ask to speak with a member of the Family Team, who will be more than happy to assist.