The latest divorce figures from the Office of National Statistics show that the divorce rate in England and Wales continues to fall.
There were 111,169 divorces in 2014, a decrease of 3.1% compared with 2013 and a substantial decline of 27% from a recent peak in 2003.
The leading explanation for this leans towards the increasing trend for couples to cohabit.
Divorce rates for men and women, 1950 to 2014, England & Wales.
Cohabitation Instead Of Marriage?
Increasingly couples are choosing to live together before getting married, or simply in replacement of marriage.
The continuing decline in divorce rates may reflect the idea that by cohabiting before marriage, couples build up a stronger relationship making them less likely to divorce.
The stats show that cohabiting couple families are the fastest growing family type in the UK, more than doubling since the mid 1990’s.
The change in social attitudes can be reflected by the fact, nearly four in five couples choosing to marry have lived together prior to marriage.
However, often couples still make the decision to marry following a period of living together due to the lack of rights for cohabitees, compared to the greater legal security of marriage.
People Who Get Married & Divorced Are Generally Older
The knock-on effect of the social trend to live together before marriage, has resulted in the age of marrying couples increasing.
Research indicates that there is a higher risk of divorce among those marrying at younger ages. Surprisingly, the average age of the those choosing to divorce is increasing.
Age of men and women divorcing, 2014. England and Wales
Most divorcees now are age 40+. Couples are drifting apart later in life, often due to ‘empty nest syndrome’ which occurs when children have grown up and left the family home.
Now society has a more relaxed attitude to divorce, couples feel less tied to these unhappy marriages.
Going through a divorce? Make sure you read our divorce guide here.
Reasons Why People Are Divorcing At An Older Age
With the rise in popularity of online dating aimed at the older market, a greater amount of older divorcees are able to build new relationships later in life.
Another factor is that there is a greater proportion of women with careers that offer the possibility of financial independence.
Therefore, women are less likely to stay in marriages for financial security.
Notwithstanding that, once a marriage has lasted 20 years, it is much more likely that the couple will stay together.
The first 10 years of marriage is when a couple is most at risk of divorce.