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Divorce rate after ten years of marriage unchanged since the 1960s, says new research

The Marriage Foundation publishes analysis of divorce statistics over the last forty years

A new report from The Marriage Foundation, What is the divorce rate?,  has contradicted the common assumption that the divorce rate for all couples is higher than it was in the 1960s.

Looking at the rate of divorce over the last four decades, Harry Benson, Communications Director at The Marriage Foundation, found that the divorce rate for couples after they have been married for ten years or more has not changed since the 1960s.

One in five newlyweds divorce after ten years of marriage, with the likelihood of a marriage ending in divorce further shrinking with each decade. A tiny 2 per cent of weddings end in divorce after thirty years of marriage, with divorce rates after forty years of marriage even rarer: fewer than 0.5 per cent of couples divorce after being married forty years or more.

Details of the new research was presented by Mr Benson at the launch of National Marriage Week at the House of Commons on February 7.

Mr Benson said:

"All the change in divorce rates since the 1960s have occurred during the first ten years of marriage. After ten years of marriage, there's the same chance a couple who marry in 2013 will keep the vow 'death do us part' as there was forty years ago."

Half of all divorces currently take place during the first decade of marriage. There is hope for newlyweds, however, in that the divorce rate during the first ten years of marriage has fallen in recent years from a peak in 1993, a trend Mr Benson predicts will continue.

He added:

"Changes in divorce rates during the first ten years reflect the care we take in forming our relationship in the first place. Couples who marry today are clearly making better choices, with fewer marriages breaking down in the very early years than in the 1990s and early 2000s."

Within the first decade of marriage, the highest number of divorces occurs between three and six years of marriage, debunking the myth of the 'seven year itch'. After peaking between three and six years, the likelihood of a marriage ending in divorce decreases with each year thereafter.

The report can be read here.