The Office for National Statistics (ONS), which collected census data from 1961 to 2011 in England and Wales, has found that fewer people are getting married, but more are getting divorced.

In 1961, the census discovered that 68% of people aged 16 and over were married, and only 0.8% were divorced. Fast forward fifty years later (2011), and just 49% of people aged 16 years and over were married or in a same-sex civil partnership, and 9% were either divorced or had ended their civil partnership.

This long-term decline in marriage was likely to be a result of more men and women delaying marriage or couples choosing to cohabit instead, the ONS has said. However, the ONS did find particular groups where marriage remains a popular option saying:

…more people are choosing to get married at older ages, particularly those aged 65 and over,” and “around one in 35 marriages are now among same-sex couples”.

The ONS also suggested that less stringent divorce laws could be why there has been a major increase in the number of people getting divorced.

Sue Andrews, family partner, B P Collins comments:

“At whatever age a couple separate and whatever the length of the relationship, it is so important for couples to have an amicable divorce, where both parties are realistic and pragmatic about what is fair, are able to talk frankly and openly with each other and aim to achieve a settlement to meet both of their needs and those of any minor children.

“It is also interesting to read that more older people are choosing to get married and if you are one of them it would be sensible to at least consider a pre-nuptial agreement for peace of mind for you and your family particularly if there are substantial assets involved or children from a previous marriage. Although a pre-nuptial agreement is not binding in the contractual sense, a properly drawn up agreement will influence the financial outcome if you divorce.  Importantly such agreements can actually be a buttress to a relationship. If you can talk about the awkward subjects of money, you should be able to talk and resolve anything.” 

For family law advice, please contact Sue Andrews on or call 01753 279046.

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