Swings and roundabouts: why falling divorce rates are not necessarily good news

Good news if you plan to get married in 2019. According to research by the Marriage Foundation released for National Marriage Week, you are far less likely to get divorced that those who got married in the 1980s.

The Marriage Foundation commissioned data from the ONS to project divorce risk rates for every year since 1963. It reveals that the decade in which couples married has a major affect on their expected divorce rate:

  • For those married in 1963, the projected divorce rate is 29%
  • For those married in the late Eighties, this rises to 44%
  • Those married post 2000 have a projected divorce rate of 35%

The Marriage Foundation, which promotes family stability, suggests that in the 1980s and 1990s, couples felt pressured into marriage. In contrast, the pressure to marry in the 2010s has, quote, “disappeared”. (We should point out that their figures do not cover civil partnerships or same sex marriages.)


Why we welcome less divorce

At LGFL, we actually welcome any figures that show a drop in the overall divorce rates. We know from first-hand experience how some couples choose divorce as a first option, without realising the upheaval and distress it can cause them and their families.

The divorce rate may also be falling as a result of the changing shape of families in society. This is reflected in the fact that the issues we deal with here at LGFL are ever-evolving, and different from case to case.

However, we would not for one moment suggest that those in unhappy marriages should stay together just ‘for the sake of the children’. Evidence shows that living in an acrimonious environment can have a long-lasting effect on children (see our recent article on children and divorce).

Nor should any man or woman feel they cannot divorce a coercive or abusive spouse, or live a miserable existence because their ‘other half’ does not want to divorce. Call us to discuss your personal situation in a free 30-minute, confidential consultation.

Marriage rates down

There is another side to the decreasing likelihood of divorce. Marriage rates are also dropping, from a peak in 1972 to just under 250,000 opposite sex marriages taking place in 2017.

As the Office for National Statistics (ONS) explains:

“Marriage rates remain at historical lows despite a small increase in the number of people who got married in 2016.”

To put the figures in context, 101,669 couples got divorced in 2017. For every 5 couples who got married in that year, 2 married couples got divorced.


Cohabiting couples in the UK

In 2016 (the latest figures available), there were 3.25million cohabiting couples in the UK. Cohabitation brings a whole range of issues of its own, many of which are shared with couples living together in any relationship, and some of which are unique to cohabitation.

It’s important to stress once again that there is no such thing as a common law spouse. A couple who choose to live together but not marry do not enjoy the same legal protection as a married couple or those in a civil partnership. Some cohabitees may not marry due to deep-held beliefs, but others simply may not realise their lack of rights as a cohabitee, including the lack of protection of assets, children or financial support should they split up from their partner.

A cohabitation agreement (cohabitation contract) formalises aspects of living together, and sets out your mutual rights and obligations to each other. It is not a indication that you think you might split up in the future, but like a life insurance policy, a cohabitation agreement ensures that if the worst happens, there is provision in place. If you’d like to draw up a cohabitation agreement, call us for an appointment for fill in our request form.

The legal costs of divorce

Another perceived barrier to a formal marriage might be the legal costs of any future divorce. Hence the rise of so-called ’quicky’ divorces, completed online at minimal cost. However, such DIY divorces can cost those involved very dearly indeed. At LGFL, we see cases correcting issues about online errors for ‘quickie’ divorces on a daily basis.

By conducting their own divorce online, couples miss out on expert advice from a divorce lawyer that will help them achieve the best outcome for themselves and their family, especially if young children are involved. The danger is that DIY divorces could result in financial settlements that are:

  • Unsuitable or unfair due to non-disclosure of information
  • Do not include adequate or sensible child arrangements for your children
  • Potentially involve you in subsequent legal battles and wrangles for years to come.


Expert legal advice when you need it most

At LGFL, we have years of experience in all types of divorce, and have a reputation for achieving the best outcome for our clients. Yes, a DIY divorce will always cost less than our fees, but like employing a good accountant rather than doing your own books, you will always win out financially at the end.

What’s more, we understand the system of divorce in England and Wales, and all its requirements, saving you hours of time and stress.


Meet us, talk with us, no obligation

Come and discuss your own unique situation in a free confidential 30-minute consultation at our discreet countryside offices in Swallowfield, or in our exclusive use office at Spaces in central Reading.

We offer advice on all aspects of family law, including:

  • Pre nuptial agreements
  • Cohabitation agreements
  • Divorce and civil partnership dissolution
  • Collaborative law solutions for family disputes

Call us, email us or fill in the call back form. You’re never just a statistic to us.

LGFL Ltd - listening with empathy