Divorce Week UK!

Relationship breakdown

posted: 14th May 2019

As divorce week begins today, we take a look at the most recent statistics and analysis carried out by the Office of National Statistics (ONS hereafter) and the Marriage Foundation.

The Marriage Foundation undertook an analysis of all the statistics published by the ONS which yielded some interesting results.

Their research shows that the lowest rate for divorce, at 28%, was for those married in 1963. Despite this being the lowest percentage, the 1960’s and 1970’s saw a steady increase in the rate of divorce. This continued and peaked during the 1980’s and 1990’s when the divorce rates were over 42%. The highest divorce rate found was in respect of marriages in 1986; a hefty 44% of marriages during that year have or will end in divorce. For all those couples marries in 1986 there is no need to panic however as 96% of those marriages likely to divorce have already done so.

The divorce rate has slowly been declining since 1990 and is currently at its lowest rate of 35% since 1969. Harry Benson the Research Director at the Marriage Foundation commented; the “huge fall in lifetime divorce rates shows that the current generation of newlyweds is far more serious about their commitment than their parents were”.

It is likely to be the case that the decline in the divorce rate is due to social changes rather than legal changes, as attitudes towards marriage appear to have altered over the course of time. It is suggested that newlyweds now enter into marriage out of love rather than as a consequence of social demands and pressure from family members.

The ONS also found that there is an increase year on year in the number of couples choosing cohabitation over marriage. This can pave the way for young couples to truly get to know each other prior to marrying. The ONS found that in 2016 those who entered into marriage did so at a later stage in their lives with the average age for men marrying being 37.9 years and women 35.5 years. This was slightly higher for same-sex couples whereby the average age for men was 40.8 years and women 37.4 years.

In 2018, the Government requested the Law Commissioner propose options for “a simpler and fairer system to give modern couples meaningful choice” when it comes to the way in which marriages are formalised.

It is also worth noting that the Private Members Bill presented by Tim Loughton on the issue of opposite sex couples being able to form civil partnerships, received Royal Assent on the 26 March 2019. This means the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc.) Act 2019 will come into effect later this month. Therefore if you do not wish to get married, you can formally enter into a civil partnership from 26 May 2019.

The ONS revealed that in 2017 there were 19 million families of which 3.3 million were cohabitees and 12.9 million were married or in a civil partnership.

If you have any questions in relation to all family law matters, please do not hesitate to contact PMC Family Law Solicitors on 0151 375 9968 or email .


By: Lindsey Potter - Paralegal