Marriage Rate Remains Low Despite Marginal Increase

Family Law Specialist Urges Cohabiting Couples To Seek Advice


A family law expert at Irwin Mitchell has issued a warning after a new report revealed that the number of people getting married in England and Wales remains relatively low, despite the rate of those tying the knot increasing slightly.

Data from the Office for National Statistics has revealed that the number of marriages in the two countries rose by 3.7 per cent to 241,100 in 2010 – the largest percentage rise since 2003. However, it was also confirmed that the figure remains one of the lowest rates recorded in 150 years.

John Nicholson, a Partner and family law specialist at Irwin Mitchell’s London office, said that the increase demonstrated that marriage remains important to many people, but warned that the many people choosing not to tie the knot may not realise the legal implications of doing so.

He said: “While the marriage rate did increase across 2010, the new report from the Office of National Statistics still acknowledges that the general trend for people getting married remains relatively low when viewed alongside previous years.

“Social trends have of course changed across recent years and may have a major role to play in this. For example, many people simply do not put an emphasis on the importance of marriage in the same way as couples did, say. 50 years ago.

“However, while this is something acknowledged and accepted as a part of modern society, it remains a grey area when it comes to actual legal rights.

“The government confirmed towards the end of last year that no change is being made to the rights that unmarried couples have. It may be a difficult issue to approach with a loved one, but it would be useful for those in such relationships to take legal advice and make provisions to ensure they are protected should they choose to separate in the future.

“Living together agreements can help with this. They are essentially documents which allow unmarried couples to guarantee they have an equal or fair footing on financial issues and other aspects of their relationships.

“We would urge anyone cohabiting and with little intention of getting married to seek legal advice and consider if this is something they should be interested in.”