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Divorce rates after first decade are stable, report claims

The divorce rate for couples who have been together for ten years or more has not changed since the 1960s, according to a new report from campaign group the Marriage Foundation.

What is the divorce rate?, written by communications director Harry Benson, is based on official data commissioned from the Office for National Statistics. It claims the 20 per cent divorce rate for couples who have been married for ten years or more has shown “remarkable consistency”, remaining almost unchanged in recent decades.

The rate of divorce amongst veteran couples declines still further with subsequent decades, dropping to just two per cent for couples who have been married 30 years and to 0.5 per cent for couples who have been married for forty years.

Fifty  per cent of all divorces take place within the first ten years, but even here the rate has been falling after peaking in the early 1990s.

And there is no statistical evidence to support the legendary ‘seven year itch’, the report claims,

Benson suggests that it was the introduction of widespread birth control in the 1960s that first made cohabitation a realistic possibility. A casual and unplanned approach to living together meant an initial decline in the marriage rate but nowadays couples who do marry show greater commitment, he claims.

“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.”

Benson predicts that divorce rates will continue to fall. He told the Telegraph:

“Divorce rates for today’s couples are beginning to look like those for the couples who got married in the early 70s. Divorce rates are going to continue falling – that’s not a very popular view, everyone says that as soon as recession ends they will shoot up. But divorce rates have nothing to do with recession or age or marriage rates or whether it is a first or second marriage. Rain or shone, boom or bust, better or worse, richer or poorer they are much the same apart from in the first 10 years.”

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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