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Marriage continues decline and cohabitation increases since 2002

Latest ONS figures show that just over half the adult population are married

Latest figures from the Office of National Statistics reveal that there were in England and Wales 23.8 million people who were married in 2015. This was 50.6% of the population aged 16 and over. In 2002 married people amounted to 54.8% of the population aged 16 and over.

The population aged 16 and over who were single increased from 29.6% in 2002 to 34.5% in 2015. There were 28.4 million people living in a couple in 2015. This was 60.5% of the population aged 16 and over. This coincides with an increase in people cohabiting who are never married or civil partnered (from 6.8% in 2002 to 9.5% in 2015), as cohabitation has become more common as an alternative to marriage, especially at younger ages. The rise in single population also reflects more people in middle age groups remaining unmarried.

Resolution's spokesman on cohabitation law, Graeme Fraser, commented:

"These statistics should be regarded by policymakers as a wake-up call that cohabitation is a trend of modern society that is not going to go away. As family lawyers who see the damage caused by the lack of protection for cohabiting couples when they separate, Resolution calls for the urgent introduction of safety net legislation providing legal protection and fair outcomes at the time of a couple's separation, particularly for children and mothers left vulnerable under the existing law.

"In light of the latest ONS data, reform of the law for cohabiting couples should be one of the top priorities for the new Justice Secretary."

For the full statistics, please click here.

13/7/16