Cohabitation and Marriage Trends

Family in a park discussing the future as a family

The Office for National Statistics have released the latest figures relating to marital status and living arrangements. The following has been revealed:

  • In 2014, 51.5% of people aged 16 and over in England and Wales were married or civil partnered 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 and 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 1 in 8 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.

We have seen a rise in the older age groups divorcing for a few years now. Some of the divorces can be attributed to the fact that older people are often on their second or third marriages, which traditionally are less stable than first marriages.

One of the main reasons often cited for older couples divorcing is a realisation that once the children have left the home they no longer have much in common.  There has also been a gradual loss of stigma associated with divorce. When a lot of older couples married  cohabitation was not socially acceptable. In addition the increase in women in employment, resulting in greater financial independence, has also had an impact.

With a greater number of people cohabiting nowadays it is imperative that legal advice is sought. There is a common misconception that cohabitees have the same financial protection as married couples when the relationship breaks down which is simply not the case.

If you need advice on divorce or any aspect of cohabitation, please contact one of our experts who will be happy to help:

Nicholas Clough:

Samantha Clifford:

Alternatively, telephone our offices Monday -Friday 8.30-5.30 on: 0161 330 6821