The 4 to 8 year itch

Recent statistics (albeit for 2012) published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) provide a fascinating insight into how modern society in the UK appears to view the idea of marriage. They also give us a rough idea of how likely a divorce might be and when it is most likely to take place.

Perhaps the most surprising thing to note is that the marriage rate is on the increase. During 2012, over 262,000 couples tied the knot. This marks an increase of 5.3% upon 2011 figures.  The average age for men getting married was 36.5 years, compared with 34.0 years for women. Tellingly, the largest percentage increase in the section of the population getting married was for those aged between 65 and 69.

So, what can we learn from the above? Well, romance doesn’t appear to be dead after all. The increase in the number of marriages does come as a bit of a shock after several years of this figure decreasing. Whilst 67% of all marriages were first marriages for both partners, 15% were remarriages for both partners and 19% were to couples where one of the partners had been married previously but subsequently divorced.

If marriage is on the increase though, there is little sign that divorce is losing out. Sadly, according to the ONS around 42% of marriages now end in divorce. Since 2010 the divorce rate has remained steady. The ‘key period’ for divorce, according to the ONS, lies between the 4th and 8th anniversary for married couples. There were 13 divorces per hour during 2012 – a total of 118,140 – with women being granted 65% of all divorces. Around 54% of all divorces granted to women were based upon allegations of unreasonable behaviour on the part of men.

So, the above figures suggest that there may well be some element of truth to the idea of the ‘7year itch.’ They also indicate that men should be on their best behaviour once that initial ‘honeymoon period’ of marriage has run its course. So, as a husband who recently celebrated a 5th wedding anniversary (after nearly forgetting it), I have been warned. ‘Happy wife, happy life’ as they say…

Our Family Department is always ready to offer advice upon separation and divorce. We continue to offer a 30 minute free appointment to all new clients. If you are contemplating separation or divorce, please get in touch.