Data from the Office of National Statistics shows that couples who marry at a younger age are statistically more likely to get divorced than those who marry when they are older.
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Statistically, those who marry in their teens or early twenties are at a much greater risk of getting divorced than those who marry over the age of 30. Historical data from the Office of National Statistics showed that of the total number of women who married before the age of 20, 53% would be divorced before their 30th wedding anniversary. For those who were aged 30-34 when they married, this figure is much lower at 23%. For those who married between the ages of 45 and 49, a mere 7% would get divorced.
The latest data confirms that there is still a strong link between age of marriage and divorce rates, with marriages of younger couples still more likely to end in divorce than those of their older counterparts.
This correlation could be partly down to couples drifting apart or developing differences as they mature, with adolescent newlyweds not completely ready for a lifelong commitment.
Cohabitation is on the Rise
With fewer young couples opting for marriage and choosing instead to live together (or cohabit) the number of marriages has been steadily declining in recent years. Furthermore, for those that do choose to marry, the average age at which they walk down the aisle is increasing. This is likely to be due to the majority of couples wanting to live together for a period of time before tying the knot, where historically this was not the done thing.
The Office of National Statistics suggests that this cultural shift could also be impacting on divorce rates, with weaker relationships being exposed and 'filtered out' during cohabitation, before they progress to marriage.
Due to the low marriage rates in this age group, the number of divorces which relate to couples who wed under the age of 20 is a very small proportion of the overall number of divorces in the UK.
Is Marriage Better than Cohabitation?
While there are certainly benefits to cohabiting before getting married (such as learning one another's quirks and finding out whether you're truly well-matched) there are also some risks associated with cohabiting.
As it currently stands, cohabitation offers no legal protection or recognition of the relationship. Contrary to popular belief, common law marriage does not exist in England and Wales. This means that if the relationship were to fail or if one person died, then there would be no legal protection offered under UK law. This could result in one person being financially ruined or finding themselves without a roof over their head if the relationship ends.
If you and your partner are planning on living together for a long period of time before marrying, or even not marrying at all, then it's a good idea to consider putting a Cohabitation Agreement in place. This versatile document can be used to set out in writing exactly what should happen in the event of separation, outlining things such as living arrangements and the division of any joint assets. It can also set out each person's obligations during the relationship, such as who is responsible for paying which bills and who should carry out which household chores.