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Family and divorce

Coronavirus: Will the institution of marriage survive?

As the average age for heterosexual marriage hits 35 for women and 38 for men, and a decline is noted in overall marriages among opposite-sex couples, Toby Yerburgh considers whether the institution will survive the current coronavirus lockdown.

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The average age at which heterosexual couples marry has reached 35.7 years for women and 38 years for men, according to the latest official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recorded further declines in the number of couple’s opting for religious ceremonies and in overall marriages among opposite-sex couples in 2017.

Toby Yerburgh, Head of family law at Collyer Bristow, comments:

“With the latest figures from the ONS showing a continuing year-on-year downward trend in marriages to the lowest level ever recorded, one has to ask whether the institution will survive the current coronavirus lockdown which has ruined so many people’s wedding plans this year.

“As couples eat into their savings for necessities, unlike divorces which seem set to increase, it is likely that marriages – particularly ones involving expensive wedding ceremonies – will continue to become increasingly rare. This makes the necessity for properly thought-through legislation regarding cohabitees’ rights – which has currently been stalled in parliament for over a year– all the more pressing.”

Comments first published in The Guardian in April 2020

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Toby Yerburgh

Partner - Head of Family Law

toby.yerburgh@collyerbristow.com