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Current divorce rates hide truth of modern family life

Here in the UK, the divorce rate has hit a low not seen since the early 1970s, but this is a classic case of where statistics give a somewhat skewed view of the subject.

Scratching beneath the surface, it appears this means that marriages are surviving, but the truth of the matter is that this is not the case at all.

There were 8.4 divorces of opposite-sex couples per 1,000 married men and women in 2017, which is a six per cent decrease from the previous year, according to data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

However, these new figures are simply down to the diminishing popularity of marriage as an option for many couples.

For instance cohabitation, living together without marriage, has grown hugely in popularity in the past generation.

Further analysis shows the divorce rates between same-sex couples have surged, increasing more than threefold in a year, from 112 to 228.

Of course, same sex marriage have only recently been allowed in the UK shedding more light on the issue.

Among heterosexual couples, the divorce rate was highest among men between 45 and 49 years of age, and women between 40 and 44 years. The average duration of marriage at the time of divorce is 12 years for opposite-sex couples.

Divorce stats can uncover all manner of talking points including the fact that they began to rise in the 1960s and, more than three decades later, hit a peak in 1993.

Now though, a generation later, society has changed greatly, where marriage is not seen as the norm that it once was.

It is fair to say we have a more complex society with family structures being somewhat different to the 1960s, 1970s etc.

Of course, divorce is still a topic of interest to those choosing to marry. But it is part of a bigger issue of legal protection in relationships whether married or not.

We, as family law experts, have seen many come to us about legal protection in the form of cohabitation agreements and prenuptial agreements. Many, although it is an uncomfortable subject, see the sense in such action.

This approach has to be told frequently to the public and trusted family law experts like ourselves need to keep reinforcing this.

If you need any advice about the points raised in this blog or any other family law matter our family law team are here to help.

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