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The Curse of 1986

1986 is said to be cursed. Why? Because those who married in 1986 have the highest chance of their relationship ending in divorce. That’s according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) marriage and divorce returns.

Marriages that took place in 1986, 1988 and 1991 have a divorce rate of 44 per cent. Since the 1969 Divorce Reform Act, which enabled couples who admitted to adultery or unreasonable behaviour to get divorced more quickly, the trend of the divorce rate was to rise until it peaked 1986-1991. The increase in the divorce rate over this period was due to more people getting divorced within the first 10 years of their marriage.

Since 1991, the divorce rate has declined. The decrease in the divorce rate over this period was due to fewer people getting divorced within the first 10 years of their marriage. The latest figures show a 38.4 per cent chance of marriages celebrated in 2012 ending in divorce.

Why The Divorce Rate is Down

The average age at which we get married in the UK has changed. Back in the early 1980s the average age for brides and grooms was 23 and 25 respectively. In 2011, the average ages were 30, for brides, and 32, for grooms. We understand that changes in the divorce rate over time have been due to a fluctuation in the number of people getting divorced within the first 10 years of marriage. It seems likely that the age at which you get married is likely to impact on your chances of having a successful, lasting marriage.

More couples cohabit before they get married. There has been a decrease in the stigma associated with living with your partner outside of wedlock. What used to be called ‘living in sin’ has now become common practice. Living with your partner before you get married can help couples to see if they are compatible and able to live together in harmony. Many people will now choose to cohabit rather than marry or to live with their partner and wait until they are older and more financially stable before getting married.

Slater and Gordon’s senior family law solicitor Beverley Darwent said: “Perhaps 1986 is not cursed. I don’t accept that if you married in ’86, ‘88 or ’91 that your marriage is doomed. The divorce rate stood at around 40 per cent for over 30 years but is now declining.

“Many relationships end in divorce and every case I deal with is different. Most couples need to work at their marriage for it to be happy. However, if it does fail, getting proper legal advice promptly can make the divorce process as positive as it can be.”

For more information on what to do when getting a divorce, read Sarah Thompson's 4 Top Tips For Amicable Separation and our Who do I need to Tell I'm Getting Divorced blog.

If you are considering getting divorced call the divorce solicitors at Slater and Gordon on freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online for a no-obligation initial consultation.

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