Debunking some of the myths surrounding divorce

The Marriage Foundation has recently carried out some intriguing analysis of a set of data released by the Office for National Statistics which related to the UK divorce rate.

A major talking point following this analysis was the observation that family breakdowns had cost the country close to £45 billion – a greater sum than the entire defence budget.

Crucially, the Marriage Foundation and ONS also found that numerous commonly held beliefs about divorce are in actual fact, fallacies. Some of these are listed below:

Co-habiting prior to marriage is more likely to lead to divorce

Couples living in the same property before they get married does not appear to be a problem if the couple are engaged. However, cohabitation prior to engagement does appear to have a strong link with higher divorce figures. Perhaps this is because couples who have become engaged have already made a long term commitment to each other before moving in together, whereas the relationship between cohabitees may simply snowball into marriage.

There is a higher likelihood of divorce for second marriages

Amongst men, the divorce rate for second marriages is actually lower than for first marriages. This is perhaps because people often ‘fall’ into their first marriages and enter with a degree of naivety, whereas they are wise when it comes to tying the knot a second time.

Couples get the 7 year itch

The notion that divorces have a shelf life of 7 years has been shown to be inaccurate. For four decades, the divorce rate has been consistently highest between 3 and 6 years of marriage. Indeed the likelihood of divorce eases with every year afterwards.

Recession makes divorce more likely

The divorce rate is remarkably consistent and insensitive to economic woes or changing social outlooks. If anything, recession causes couples to wait to divorce so that some value can return to their assets.

Silver Splitters

In recent years, a myth has developed that there is a shockingly high divorce rate for older couples. Is does not appear to be the case as older couples whose marriage lasts for at least a decade then have the same chance of getting divorced as they had 40 years ago.

The divorce rate

30 years ago, the divorce rate peaked at 44% for the year. According to the figures published by the ONS, the rate currently stands at 42% but this stat excludes those who go married outside of the UK (which could of course be a significant number in today’s globalised world. Indeed, if these figures were included, it is believed that the divorce rate would only stand at 39%.

One fifth of wedded couples divorce within a decade and every year afterwards, the likelihood of divorce decreases. Just 1 in 50 marriages ends in divorce after 3 decades of marriage. After four decades of marriage, the divorce rate drops to 1 in every 200 couples.

As it stands, 25% of all UK births registered to couples who live together but are not married. These parents will therefore not receive the benefits and safeguards that they would under marriage laws because the idea of ‘common law marriage’ is yet another myth.

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