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Increase in number of over-50s straying away from marriage and civil partnerships

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A new study into UK marriage and divorce trends has revealed that an increasing number of over-50s are straying away from marriages and civil partnerships.

According to analysis of data compiled by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of UK adults aged 50-59 who have never been married, never entered a civil partnership and do not currently cohabit with a partner has doubled in the last 15 years to hit almost 730,000.

A report in The Telegraph suggests that rising divorce rates in the 1970s, 80s and 90s have deterred such individuals – which it describes as ‘silver singles’ – from marrying.

Higher divorce rates were initially spurred on by the historic introduction of the Divorce Reform Act in 1969 – which enabled couples to divorce without proving fault if they had been separated for two years or more – but rates peaked in 1994, when historic ONS records suggest that there were as many as 14.2 splits per every 1,000 UK couples.

In comparison, more recent ONS analysis suggests that divorce rates over the past few years have fallen to record lows – but it is thought that this can be attributed to decreases in the number of people getting married and increases in the number of alternative family set-ups or types, such as cohabitation.

Data unveiled towards the end of 2016 revealed that the number of cohabiting couples in the UK has doubled over the last 20 years, and that cohabitation is now thought to be the fastest-growing family type in the UK.

However, cohabiting couples who are not married or have not entered into a civil partnership often have limited rights in the event of a separation – particularly if they do not have recognised Wills or a cohabitation agreement in place.

MFG Solicitors’ family team can advise on divorce, family-related disputes and the drawing up of cohabitation agreements. For more information, please contact us.