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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

13 JUL 2016

Nearly 10 per cent of adults in England and Wales are cohabiting couples

Journals Manager + Online Editor


Nearly 10 per cent of adults in England and Wales are cohabiting couples
Newly released ONS statistics show that nearly 10 per cent of adults in England and Wales are unmarried and living with a partner.

According to today's bulletin, in 2002 people who were cohabiting who were never married or civil partnered represented 6.8% of the population; this had increased to 9.5% by 2015.

According to Families and Households: 2015 cohabiting couple families are the fastest growing family type in the UK - they grew by 29.7% between 2004 and 2014.

Lawyer Graeme Fraser, Resolution’s spokesman on cohabitation law, explains:

'These statistics should be regarded by policymakers as awake-up call that cohabitation is a trend of modern society that is not going to go away. As family lawyers who see the damage caused by the lack of protection for cohabiting couples when they separate, Resolution calls for the urgent introduction of safety net legislation providing legal protection and fair outcomes at the time of a couple's separation, particularly for children and mothers left vulnerable under the existing law.'

He continues:

'In light of the latest ONS data, reform of the law for cohabiting couples should be one of the top priorities for whoever the new Prime Minister appoints as Justice Secretary.'

Other main points include:
  • There were 23.8 million people who were married in 2015. This was 50.6% of the population aged 16 and over.

  • The population aged 16 and over who were single increased from 29.6% in 2002 to 34.5% in 2015.

  • There were 28.4 million people living in a couple in 2015. This was 60.5% of the population aged 16 and over.

Pamela Cobb, Population Statistics Division, Office for National Statistics, said:

'Just over half of the population aged 16 and over were married in 2015. This figure has steadily declined since 2002, which could be associated with a rise in cohabiting amongst those who have never married or formed a civil partnership.'

The statistical bulletin is available to download here.


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