Divorce rate highest among those aged 40 to 49

The number of divorces taking place continues to decline. This maybe down to more couples deciding to cohabit rather than marry and an increasing age at marriage may also be a factor.
According to the latest release of divorce figures by the Office for National Statistics, there were 111,169 divorces in England and Wales in 2014 which is a decrease of 3.1% compared with 2013 and a decline of 27% from a recent peak in 2003.

The figures also show that the number of divorces in 2014 was highest among men aged 45 to 49 and women aged 40 to 44.

Nicola Haines, on behalf of the Office for National Statistics, said:

“Compared with 2004, divorce rates in 2014 were lower for all age groups except women aged 55 and over. Likely factors include increased cohabiting and increasing age at first marriage. Previous research indicates a higher risk of divorce among those marrying at younger ages, whilst cohabitation may be reducing the number of weaker relationships progressing to marriage.”
The divorce rates show that the average age of divorcees is continuing to rise. This could be down to the attitudes of modern society towards divorce; which have become more relaxed in the last 10 to 20 years. It seems that there is no longer a stigma attached to being a divorcee.

The statistics also show that most divorcees are now in their 40s. It seems that people now feel that they don’t have to stay in unhappy relationships and with the growing number of dating websites and groups which are being marketed for older people; they feel that it is possible to build new relationships regardless of your age after a divorce.

But those that have been married for at least 20 years can take comfort from the fact that a couple is less likely to divorce once a marriage lasts 20 years according to the statistics. It is the first 10 years of a marriage that is the most likely time that a divorce will occur.

In the longer term, it seems that as more people are choosing to cohabit for longer periods of time before deciding to get married, and that could be the reason that relationships are stronger at the point of marriage, causing a fall in divorce rates in recent years. The other reason could simply be that more people are choosing to cohabit and forgo the wedding entirely, particularly those that have had a previous relationship and/or maybe wealthy in their own right.

Furthermore, the Office of National Statistics have released figures to show that there are now 3.3 million cohabiting couple families in the UK. The number has more than doubled over the last 20 years meaning that cohabiting couple families have been the fastest growing family type, over last 20 years.

In response to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures, Resolution have said that the high growth in cohabiting couples is further evidence that the law needs to catch up with modern British society. They go on to say that should these cohabitating couples separate, they currently have little or no legal protection, despite believing that they have a ‘common law marriage’ providing them with similar legal rights to married people.

Nigel Shepherd, Resolution Chair, said:

“These ONS figures are further proof that more and more couples are choosing to live together and bring up their children without marrying. Sadly, some of those relationships will come to an end at some point. This is a feature of our modern society that is here to stay and unfortunately current cohabitation law is failing to provide them with the rights some of them mistakenly think they have.”

“Rather than ignoring these 3.3million families, our lawmakers must respond and introduce safety net legislation that will provide legal protection and fair outcomes at the time of a couple’s separation.”

Family lawyer Graeme Fraser, Resolution’s spokesman on cohabitation law, said:

“Under current cohabitation law it’s possible to live with someone for decades and even to have children together and then simply walk away without taking any responsibility for a former partner when the relationship breaks down. This can have a huge impact on women and children, particularly in cases where a mother has given up or reduced her work to raise a family.”

It is always best to obtain legal advice from a specialist family law solicitor if you are looking to divorce or end your relationship, particularly where it involves the distribution of any property or other asset/capital and you have children with your spouse/partner. It is also a good idea to obtain some specialist advice if you wish to protect any property/assets when entering into a cohabiting relationship or marriage.

If you are looking for specialist family law advice, then please contact our family law specialist solicitor Satvinder Sokhal on 020 8280 2710