The Office of National Statistics published findings in February 2013 in relation to the percentage of marriages ending in divorce.
The figures concluded that 34% of marriages are expected to end in divorce by the 20th wedding anniversary. 6% of marriages end by the 20th wedding anniversary because of the death of a spouse.
This means that only 60% of marriages are expected to survive the 20th wedding anniversary.
In most recent years, particularly for those married since 2000, the rate of divorce has fallen in comparison to what it had been between 1970 and 2000. The ONS believe that this is attributable to two factors: the first being that the age at which people marry has increased generally; the second being that more people are cohabiting before marrying.
The law provides equal rights to married couples upon separation. For instance, in divorce what ever assets there are upon separation, the starting point for the division of those assets is 50/50 regardless of who owns them. For cohabitees however, there is very little in the way of legal rights. Unless a cohabitee is the joint legal owner of a property with their partner they will find it difficult to argue that they have any legal or equitable interest in any assets owned by the other; even if the couple have lived together for many years.
Entering into a Cohabitation Agreement from the outset of living together can set out how partners intend property to be owned and how financial responsibilities will be shared. Some people may like to think that if they separated that such an agreement wouldn’t be necessary and that they will be capable of agreeing matters between them. That may be the case. However, such an agreement can provide certainty and security to both parties from the outset. If parties can’t agree following separation it also serves as a record of the parties’ intentions.