The Office for National Statistics has released new figures showing the number of people getting married continues to fall. From a peak of 480,285 marriages in 1972, there were only 270,400 weddings in 2008 – a fall of almost 44%.
Meanwhile, the number of unmarried cohabitees continues to grow – at the last count, there were 4 million.
Across the UK, the long-term picture for marriage is one of decline: in Scotland, the number of marriages decreased from 29,866 in 2007 to 28,903 in 2008, a fall of 3.2%; in Northern Ireland, the number of marriages decreased by 2% to 8,510; and in England and Wales, 232,990 couples registered marriages, compared to 235,370 in 2007, a fall of 1.2%.
The 2008 figure for England and Wales represents the lowest number of marriages since 1895 when 228,204 marriages were registered. What’s really significant about these figures is that today’s population is around double that of 100 years ago.
The Office for National Statistics acknowledges “the long-term picture for UK marriage is undoubtedly one of decline.”
This is also borne out by the marriage rate – the number of marriages per head of population – has fallen to its lowest since records began in 1862.
In 2008 there were 21.8 men marrying per 1,000 unmarried adult men, down from 22.4 in 2007, and 19.6 women marrying per 1,000 unmarried women, down from 20.2 in 2007.
A Church of England spokesman said: “Couples now see marriage as the crown of their relationship, something to wait for, rather than a gateway to adulthood as it was.”
But that rather simplifies the trend. Increasingly, as more people move away from organised religion, many question the need to get married at all.
Unmarried cohabitees are often utterly unaware, however, that under present law they are afforded significantly less rights and legal protection than their married counterparts – read Living Together: A Practical Guide To Your Rights published by Advicenow to learn more.
Alternatively, you may want to speak with a family law solicitor. You can find a solicitor in your area for free via solicitor matching services, which can also help you to understand the best course of action for your situation and whether you are even ready to a hire a solicitor.
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