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Marriage Trends in the UK

Recently published figures have given an interesting breakdown of marriage trends in England and Wales, and also in Scotland.

The figures for England and Wales were published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and relate to the year 2014.

They show that:

  • There were 4,850 marriages between same sex couples in 2014. Of these, 44% (2,129) were between male couples and 56% (2,721) were between female couples.
  • In 2014, civil ceremonies among opposite sex couples increased by 4.1%, while religious ceremonies decreased by 0.8% compared with 2013.
  • Same sex couples mostly solemnised their marriages in civil ceremonies; there were only 23 religious ceremonies accounting for 0.5% of all marriages of same sex couples.
  • In 2014, of all individuals marrying a same sex partner 85% were forming their first legally recognised partnership compared with 76% for opposite sex couples.
  • There were 2,411 same sex couples who converted their civil partnership into a marriage between 10th and 31st December 2014.

Same Sex Marriage

The ONS highlights that marriages of same sex couples have only been possible in England and Wales since 29th March 2014. Taking this into account, the number of marriages of same sex couples in 2014 is considered to be similar to the number of civil partnerships formed in the year prior to the change in legislation. In 2013, there were 5,646 civil partnerships formed between same sex couples, with 47% of these being between male couples and 53% between female couples. Between 2009 and 2013, the numbers of men and women forming civil partnerships in a year were relatively even; female couples accounted for between 48% and 53% of all civil partnerships each year.

Average Marriage Age

The statistics also looked at what age people got married in 2014, and found that among opposite sex couples, more women than men married at ages under 30; at ages 30 and over, more men married. A similar pattern has apparently been recorded since 1997 and reflects that on average, men tend to form relationships with women younger than themselves, says the ONS.

Among same sex couples, more women than men married at ages under 50; at ages 50 and over, more men married. In 2013, prior to the introduction of marriages for same sex couples, more women than men entered a civil partnership at ages under 40 while at ages 40 and over, more men formed a civil partnership.

Figures for Scotland

In Scotland, the most recent marriage statistics published by National Records of Scotland relate to the year 2016.

The figures don’t provide the level of detail included in the ONS statistical release, but do show that the number of marriages in Scotland fell by 462 compared to 2015 and levels remain historically low. Of the 29,229 marriages registered in 2016, 999 involved same sex couples and, of the same sex marriages, 174 were changes from previous civil partnerships.

There were also 70 civil partnerships (42 male and 28 female) registered in Scotland in 2016, six more than in 2015.

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For expert legal advice on family law issues, including marriage, cohabitation and divorce, then contact our specialist family lawyers today.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.