What happens in America will happen over here soon enough – isn’t that how it goes? If so, then statistics recently published, and reported by The New York Times might give married couples over here cause for celebration.

In its article ‘The Divorce Surge Is Over, but the Myth Lives On’ the report debunks the myth that 50% of marriages end in divorce. The US statistics in fact show that marriages are lasting longer and that whilst divorce rates in the 1970’s and 80’s increased, since then they have been dropping.

Fox News reports that the statistics show that of marriages celebrated in the 1990’s around 70 percent reach the 15th anniversary, up from 65 percent for those which began in the 1970’s and 1980’s. More recent figures, for marriages in the 2000’s are even lower still.

‘Shotgun Weddings’

The reasons why this is happening are referred to as being very complicated. The commentators mention a host of factors, such as the increase in the number of couples who cohabit before marriage – leading to a reduction in the so called ‘shotgun weddings’ that were not known for their longevity. People are waiting for longer before they commit to marriage, and when they do marry they do it in the knowledge of what is involved. That if anything has led to break ups before the couple even complete the walk down the aisle – something for which there are no statistics!

Is marriage related to wealth?

Interestingly, Christine Whelan, director of MORE: Money, Relationships and Equality, and a faculty associate in the School of Human Ecology at University of Wisconsin, Madison says that “It turns into the marriage ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’,”, “On the one hand we have educated people who are marrying at [high rates].” But, on the other hand: “If you are less educated and affluent you are more likely to cohabitate.”

She goes on to say, “Fewer lower-income folks, I believe, are getting married now than in the past.” Her view is that marriage used to be something everyone did regardless of class. Now that living together seems less shocking, some people have less incentive to tie the knot. And some women don’t see the economic advantage to marrying and simply don’t.

She does also say make the point that whilst divorce rates were low in the ‘good old days’, it doesn’t necessarily follow that everyone was happily married back then, they just didn’t file for divorce.

It could never happen here, could it?

So it seems that in America at least, some are saying that those couples who are better educated or on higher incomes are more likely to get married than those who are less educated or affluent. Is the prevalence of pre-nuptial agreements in the US a factor?

It certainly is an interesting debate. But will it be the same for the UK? – as so often trends from across the pond are seen here eventually. For us, does wealth or education affect whether couples here get married to the same extent as our American cousins?

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If you would like to discuss the issues raised in this post or need family law advice please contact Paradigm Family Law on 0845 6020422 or email us at [email protected] in the strictest confidence.