New statistics shed light on the changing shape of families
During the 1970s, fewer than one in four marriages (22 per cent) ended before the 13th anniversary.
Over the next two decades the proportionate who decided to part ways in this period rose and stood at around 30 per cent by the end of the 1990s.
However, this trend was reversed following the turn of the Millennium and in the ten years to 2010, the number of marriages that ended in the first 13 years fell back to 27 per cent.
Some have suggested that the decline in earlier divorces is driven by the fact that more people are choosing to cohabit.
There is still, however, a spike in the number of people deciding to separate between the fourth and eighth anniversary, albeit slightly reduced among those who have tied the knot since the year 2000.
The ONS data also confirms that cohabitation is the fastest growing family type in the UK. In fact the number of cohabitees has risen by 13 per cent over the past 20 years.
This trend is likely to add further fuel to the debate about whether Britain’s laws need to be revised to provide greater protection to unmarried couples.
Previous attempts by MPs to have current legislation updated have been ultimately unsuccessful, although a number of leading Judges have pressed the Government to revisit the issue before the end of this Parliament.
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