In 2013 divorce rates fell to their lowest level in 40 years. They have since stabilised but not risen as in the past. Let’s investigate why they dived in 2013.
Divorce rates, in 2013, were at their lowest since 1975, the year after the major liberalisation of divorce law, in the wake of the sexual revolution of the 60’s.
The decrease coincided with the rise in the number of couples choosing to marry, reversing the long trend of declining marriage and rising divorce. Between 2003 and 2013 there was a huge shift in people choosing to live together. Social attitudes had changed. The number of families, headed by cohabiting couples was up by 30 per cent.
Interestingly, the latest divorce figures also offer further evidence that younger couples who marry now are less likely to divorce than their parents’ generation. This may be largely due to people marrying older and ‘choosing’ to and not having to, as no longer influenced, as before, by society’s expectations.
Consequently, while 42 per cent of marriages now end in divorce, there is evidence that the proportion is decreasing for couples who married since 2010. Regarding age trends, it was with the over 50s, that divorce rates increased by most in 2017. The average age to divorce rose to 46 for men and 44 for women, in 2016, the highest on record. The average duration of marriages ending was 12 years in 2016, the second highest figure on record.
The chair of the family law organisation Resolution, states that although the fastest growing type of household in Britain, cohabiting couples, has meant reduced divorce rates because fewer people marry, more couples may actually marry if the Government introduced legislation giving prenups the weight of statute rather than just the weight of case law, because the wealthier, (still men statistically), may then feel comfortable marrying. The majority of divorces in 2016 were petitioned by the wife (61%). Between 1980 and 2000, this proportion had consistently been at or above 70%. Unreasonable behaviour has consistently been the most common ground for wives petitioning for divorce since the late 1970s. It has only been the most common ground for husbands since 2006. In the 1980s and 1990s, it was adultery.
Do you need advice on divorce or family law? Contact me here.