State of Relationships in 2010; Nicola Walker, Head of Family Law at Irwin Mitchell in the West Midlands, Reviews the Social Trends of the 'Noughties'

Article excerpt

Byline: Nicola Walker

The past decade has seen massive changes in the field of family law. There has been a fall in both the number of marriages and divorces, as well as an increasingly high number of celebrity divorce cases.

Statistics show marriage became less and less popular throughout the decade, with the number of marriages falling by 14.2 per cent. There was also a considerable decline in the number of divorces, with the divorce rate down 10.9 per cent by the end of the ten year period.

There's been a massive shift in culture over the last decade, which has been underlined by a heavy decline in the number of people getting married. We've also seen the age at marriage increasing, as people look to settle down and have children later in life.

Although the number of divorces has fallen in total, divorce was on the rise for the first half of the decade and the recent fall is probably as much down to the decline in the number of marriages as a cultural shift towards couples sticking together for longer.

Another important social change was the introduction of civil partnerships in December 2005, which was brought in to give same-sex couples the equivalent legal rights to married couples.

Initially these proved very popular, with 1,953 partnerships in the last month of 2005 and 16,106 in 2006. Since then, however, the number of civil partnerships has fallen dramatically to around 7,000 new partnerships a year.

It's not surprising there was a large take up of civil partnerships when they were first introduced. …