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Opposite sex marriage falls to lowest ever level

Rates of marriage amongst opposite sex couples have fallen to their lowest ever level according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

There were a total of 239,020 heterosexual marriages in 2015, the ONS reveals, a fall of nearly 3.5 per cent in a single year (from  247,372) and the lowest on record. The figure equates to 21.7 marriages per 1,000 single men and 19.8 per 1,000 unmarried women. The decline affected both religious and civil marriages, but with the sharpest fall occurring amongst the former.

When compared to 2005, marriage rates for all ages have fallen except for men aged 65 or over and women aged 55 or over, who are actually marrying at a higher rate.

Meanwhile, a little under 6,500 same sex marriages took place in 2015, with the majority between female same sex couples. Unsurprisingly, most of these were civil rather than religious ceremonies. Notably, a further 9,156 couples converted their civil partnerships into marriage over the same period.

No less than 85 per cent of the individuals entering same sex marriages were entering their first legally recognised partnerships, the ONS notes: a significantly higher rate than the 76 per cent of people entering an opposite sex marriage.

Sarah Snow is Managing Partner of Stowe Family Law’s recently established Manchester office. Appearing on talkRADIO, she told presenter Eamonn Holmes that marriage rates had been declining since the 1970s.

“This is nothing new. Nowadays there is less social pressure to get married. People have other goals, like travel and careers, and there is less of a taboo about having children out of marriage – and in general, not as a high a regard for marriage as there was in the past.”

But marriage still has advantages in law, she continued. “People so often assume cohabitees have the same rights as married couples but they don’t and this is a real issue which needs to be looked at.”

The interview is available to listen to here (choose the 18.00 – 18.30 section).

Read more here.

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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  1. JamesB says:

    The threat of ruin if it doesn’t work out is probably something to do with it, which again unsurprisingly is not mentioned in the article, wtf? Why is it educated metropolitan ruling elite types can’t be more understanding and objective, especially of white working class men/ A rhetorical question. Perhaps an article on here about how white working class boys from in single mum households need more support and protection from being victims of crime or being involved in crime, or to get to university or to afford to get to university, or being the victims of muggings and assaults.

    I think its fairly obvious that the press does not represent what most people think and you should get with it, especially given the solicitors struggling for business and lack of legal aid. Suggestion, lobby for pre nups and get into that.

  2. JamesB says:

    And by that I mean cheap pre nups rather than trying to rip people off all the time, the public have cottoned on to it and as per the article can’t afford to play or pay you expensive lawyers and bits of papers and settlements.

    Since the 70s? Yes, exactly, since MCA and ruin upon divorce for no good reason and being seen in these courts as something to be fleeced and nothing more. Men have been running away from these judgements since the 70s, its probably about time you faced up to it by now, realise the problem and then try to address it. Speaking as someone who prefers to see men and women together and married.

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