Monday, 28 April 2008


The front page of The Litigation Letter that landed on my desk today boasts the headline “Family Meltdown”. It’s a clear quotation from Mr Justice Coleridge’s speech at the recent Resolution annual conference. However, this article also quotes figures which it says show that the marriage rate in England & Wales has dropped to its lowest level (236,980) since 1895 when the population was presumably considerably smaller than it is now. At the same time the article claimed that the divorce rate has increased to its highest level at 45%, with 10% of marriages lasting less than 5 years.

With figures of this magnitude being quoted, no wonder it’s so easy for those in power to lambast single parents and the breakdown in family life for the ills of society including wayward adolescents, school truancy, bullying, drug abuse, crime and teenage pregnancies. What the figures clearly show, of course, is that cumbersome, outdated divorce laws do nothing to keep marriages together. Quite what the Government intends to do about it though is another issue, especially when we still need some proper laws to regulate the break up of relationships between those couples who opt simply to live together and don’t therefore even feature in these statistics.

Of course, if you are fortunate enough that your marriage has subsisted happily for 5 years or more, what is also suggested (assuming consistency in mortality and divorce rates) is that it is too early to start planning your 60th wedding anniversary. Apparently only 10% of couples marrying today will survive to make those celebrations; whilst purportedly 45 % will divorce, another 45% will be separated by death, because the average age for marrying itself has increased to 31.8 for men and 29.7 for women. That means that the couples who do make it will, on average, presumably be 91.8 and 89.7 years of age. Further, 10% of the number quoted for couples marrying means that 23,698 couples a year should attain this achievement; now that’s what I call success. I knew I’d find something promising in those figures somewhere.


Steven Campbell said...

Thats a very interesting information, but I disagree that there should be laws to keep mariages together, rather it should be left entirely to couples to decide whether to stay together.

Judith said...

Exactly, which is why the refusal to make the divorce process easier is so utterly futile.