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Divorcees Fare Poorer Than Married Peers

Divorcees Fare Poorer Than Married Peers

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Divorcees more than twice as likely as their married peers to be left with no savings or investments.

Figures compiled by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicate nearly a third (32%) of divorcees have no savings or investments, compared with 14% of those who are married.

Insurance company Zurich says divorcees or separated people are far more focussed on short term financial goals. Only three in 10 (28%) are currently saving for later life, with two-thirds (65%) investing towards a short term life goal such as a vacation or paying for tuition fees for a child or grandchild.

Divorce falls to lowest levels for 45 years

Fewer people are getting divorced in England and Wales than at any time since the law was liberalised, according to the ONS data.

In all, 101,055 couples of the opposite sex were divorced in 2015, the lowest number since 1971.

The decline is in part because fewer people are getting married – but the rate of married couples getting divorced is also at its lowest since the Divorce Reform Act came into effect in February 1971. As a result of the passing of the act it became much easier for couples to escape an unhappy marriage. Neither partner had to prove fault lay with their husband or wife any longer, and as a result the divorce rate increased.

There were 8.5 divorces per thousand married men and women in 2015, down from a high of 14.3 in 1993.

The average length of a marriage is now the second highest on record, after 1972. The median time a couple remains married is now 11.9 years, up from a mid-eighties low of 8.9 years.

Age at marriage is likely closely linked to the risk of divorce

Men’s average age at marriage has risen from 23.7 in 1970 to 33.5 in 2014. Women’s average age at marriage has risen from 21.8 to 31.3.

Older people are increasingly likely to wed. There has been a 56% increase in the marriage rate for women aged 65 and over. For men, the rate has increased by 41%.

The ONS said:

“Age at marriage is . . . considered to be closely linked to the risk of divorce, with those marrying in their teens and early twenties being at greater risk of divorce; our marriage statistics show that the average age at marriage has increased steadily since 1970 for both men and women.”

Cohabitation is most probably another contributory factor in the current low level of divorce. The number of cohabiting couples more than doubled from 1.5m to 3.3m between 1996 and 2016.

“Changes in attitudes to cohabitation as an alternative to marriage or prior to marriage, particularly at younger ages, are likely to have been a factor affecting the decrease in divorce rates since 2003. Levels of cohabitation increased over this period, while the married population declined,” said ONS.

Christiaan Monden, a sociologist at the University of Oxford, said that couples were more likely to wait until they were financially stable before getting married these days, meaning that the eventual marriages may be more secure.

Harry Benson, research director at the Marriage Foundation, which works to promote marriage, said that despite falling divorce rates, Britain “continues to lead the developed world in family instability.”

“The stability that marriage brings protects couples against splitting up, protects health and wellbeing, and supports children’s education,” he said.

Same-sex divorces are catalogued for the first time

Nicola Haines from the Vital Statistics Outputs Branch at the ONS said: “For the first time, the figures also include the first full year of figures of divorces of same-sex couples, showing there were 22 divorces in 2015 . . . These figures have only been available in England and Wales since March 2014.”

The ONS identified unreasonable behaviour as being the most common grounds for divorce among same-sex couples, which includes having a sexual relationship with someone else.

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