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UK divorce rate unchanged since the 1960s

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Couples who survive the first ten years of marriage have the same chance of divorce as their grandparents in the 1960s. 

Contradicting a common assumption that divorce rates are higher than they once were, a new report from The Marriage Foundation, What is the divorce rate?,  suggests that there is little difference from 40 or 50 years ago.

The report found that the divorce rate for couples after they have been married for ten years or more has remained almost completely unchanged since the 1960s.

One in five couples divorce after ten years of marriage, and the likelihood of a divorce occurring further diminishes with each decade. Only 2 per cent of marriages end after thirty years of marriage, with divorce rates for couples divorcing after being married forty years or more even rarer at 0.5 per cent.

Details of the new research was presented by Harry Benson, communications director at The Marriage Foundation, at the launch of National Marriage Week at the House of Commons on February 7.

Mr Benson said:
"All the change in divorce rates since the 1960s have occurred during the first ten years of marriage. After ten years of marriage, there's the same chance a couple who marry in 2013 will keep the vow 'death do us part' as there was forty years ago."

Half of all divorces currently take place during the first decade of marriage. There is hope for newlyweds, however, in that the divorce rate during the first ten years of marriage has fallen in recent years from a peak in 1993, a trend Mr Benson predicts will continue.

Pearson Hinchliffe Family Law department Head, Daniel Prince said:
"The latest statistics from The Marriage Foundation certainly chime with our experience that younger a person marries, the higher the probability of getting divorced. Another factor in decreased divorce rats after 10 years of marriage is the trend to delay marriage partly contributing to a general decline in divorce over the last 20 years or so.”

Further misconception of divorce

Within the first decade of marriage, the highest number of divorces occurs between three and six years, debunking the myth of the "seven year itch".

Mr Benson added:
"Changes in divorce rates during the first ten years reflect the care we take in forming our relationship in the first place. Couples who marry today are clearly making better choices, with fewer marriages breaking down in the very early years than in the 1990s and early 2000s."

After peaking between three and six years, the likelihood of a marriage ending in divorce decreases with each year thereafter.

The report can be read here.

Contact us

For advice and information about any family law matter including divorce, please contact family solicitor, Daniel Prince using the details provided below.

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

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