New figures reveal divorce and cohabitation trends over last 12 years

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show the marital status and living arrangements of people aged 16 and over in England and Wales from 2002 to 2014.

The new figures from the Office of National Statistics have revealed that older people are fuelling a long-term rise in divorce rates. It is also revealed that people in their 30s are more likely to be cohabiting than other age groups.

The bulletin presents annual estimates of the population by legal marital status and living arrangements for England and Wales. The estimates cover the years 2002 to 2014, broken down by age group and sex.

Statistics for 2011 to 2014 have been published this week for the first time. Statistics published for the years 2002 to 2010 have been revised from previous publications.

The main points of the bulletin are as follows:

  • In 2014, 51.5 per cent of people aged 16 and over in England and Wales were married or civil partnered while 33.9 per cent were single, never married.
  • Between 2002 and 2014 the proportions of people aged 16 and over who were single or divorced increased but 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 per cent) than men (9.8 per cent) 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.

Following divorce law liberalisation in the 1960s, the number of divorces in England and Wales peaked at 165,000 in 1993 before falling again to fewer than 120,000 a year now.

Higher divorce rates have been linked to a series of changes in the behaviour of older people. A key factor is increased life expectancy and better health, which means that people in their 60s and early 70s are more likely to be active and to be interested in new relationships than previous generations were.

Another is the growing financial independence of women who are more likely than in the past to be reaching pension age with good incomes secured by long and successful careers. Such women are thought to be much less dependent on husbands than their elders were.

“These statistics are reflected in our caseload,” says Lincolnshire based divorce lawyer Diane Genders. “We advise couples on living together arrangements, such as drafting a cohabitation agreement to protect them or helping them resolve matters when the relationship ends.”

“The increase in older divorce clients is also noticed.  Older divorcing couples have different needs to younger couples.  There are usually reduced prospects of being able to earn, save or inherit much more money.  As a result it becomes essential to divide the assets so that clients have enough to provide in their new life after separation and retirement.”

If you are thinking about cohabitation, living together or thinking about divorce then telephone and speak to one of the experienced divorce lawyers at Diane Genders Solicitors on 01522 516500 with any questions you may have.