Figures have been released by the Office for National Statistics detailing the latest divorce and cohabitation trends in England and Wales from 2002 to 2014. The results offer some fascinating insights into the change in cultural attitudes towards marriage that can be traced across all age groups.

Most notable was the rise in divorce rates among those who are 45 and over, with the highest percentage of divorce rates belonging to those aged 50 to 64. Whilst this is not surprising; with various headlines and high profile divorce cases drawing attention to increasing rates among the older generation; the results show a significant shift in attitudes.

Divorce has now become an accepted aspect of modern society, with much of the stigma that was once attached fading into irrelevance. As a result over 50’s are no longer content with staying in a marriage they feel isn’t working due to social constraints but are instead choosing to lead a more enriched life outside the confines of matrimony.

In light of this we are also seeing the increasing influence of social media and technology, with the rise of online dating allowing older age groups to open up and find new relationships outside of their normal social circles. This additional support has, we have found, often acted as a stepping stone for the older generation; becoming a divorcee can be seen an exciting prospect with opportunities to develop new hobbies and relationships.

The statistics on cohabitation also draw attention to key trends among adults in England and Wales. Figures reveal that 1 in 8 couples who are in a committed relationship are living as a couple but are not married or in a civil partnership. The inclination to live together without getting married was more prominent in 30 to 34 year olds as they made up the greatest percentage of cohabiting couples. There are a number of factors that can be attributed to this. Firstly the institution of marriage no longer carries the social significance it once held, largely the result of secularisation. Additionally, the younger generation were also hardest hit finically by the economic crisis, with the cost of a wedding becoming an unaffordable expense.

In either case the rise in divorce and cohabitation means couples should carefully consider the different marital agreements available, in order secure additional security for both them and their partner. For couples entering into marriage drafting a prenuptial agreement can afford couples financial security in the unforeseeable event of a relationship breakdown.

Likewise, cohabiting couples should carefully consider the benefits of a ‘Living Together’ Agreement. Contrary to popular public belief there is no such thing as common law marriage meaning cohabiting couples do not have the same rights as their married peers. This can cause a number of difficulties, not to mention undue stress in the event a couple decide to part ways leaving parties unsure of how to share financial assets.

Here at Farleys Solicitors our award winning family law solicitors are best placed to advise you on the wealth of options available to you, regardless of circumstance. For further information contact a specialist family law solicitor today on 0845 050 1958. Alternatively please complete an online enquiry form.