News and Events

Rise in unmarried couples cohabiting

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Divorces in the U.K. have fallen to their lowest rates since 1975 according to Office for National Statistics figures. This comes at a time when the number of unmarried couples choosing to live together has risen to its highest level, with an increase over the last 10 years of 30 per cent. The statistics suggest that couples in the Greater Manchester area who have married after 2000 are less likely to divorce than their parents.

The trend was highlighted by records of younger couples who remained married past the seven-year mark. Of those who married in 1976, 20 per cent were divorced before the eighth anniversary of their wedding, but for couples who married in 2005, that figure had fallen to 16 per cent. In contrast to the falling divorce rates for younger people, the number of divorces for couples aged over 50 has increased to historically high levels, rapidly increasing by 11 per cent in just 10 years.

This trend has been explained by the fact that, with life expectancies growing longer, older couples who stayed together while their children lived at home were less likely to remain in an unfulfilling marriage after the children reached adulthood. At the same time, the younger generation, who in growing numbers have chosen to cohabit, may find that the relationship in their subsequent marriage is more stable as a result of the time spent living together.

Although the divorce rate has been shown to be falling for the first time in 40 years, the fact remains that an estimated 42 per cent of marriages end in divorce. Those who wishes to discuss their legal rights in a divorce may wish to consult a solicitor for advice in reaching a fair division of the family assets following the breakdown of a relationship.