Divorce rates have fallen to their lowest level for 40 years amid signs that the growing acceptance of couples living together before getting married has ultimately strengthened marriage.
The most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics show that 130,473 couples divorced across the UK in 2013 – down almost three per cent in a year.
The overall divorce rate fell to 9.8 per 1,000 married men or women, the lowest level since 1975 – the year after a major liberalisation of divorce law in the wake of the sexual revolution came into force.
That has coincided with a recent rise in the number of couples choosing to tie the knot over the last few years – partially reversing the decades long trend of declining marriage and rising divorce.
The gap between the number of people marrying than divorcing is now wider than at any time since 1992.
But it follows a much bigger shift towards couples living together unmarried as a result of a transformation of social attitudes.
Recent figures showed the number of families headed by cohabiting couples up by 30 per cent in a decade and more than doubling since the mid-1990s.
Strikingly, the latest divorce figures also offer further evidence that younger couples who do marry are now less likely to divorce than their parents’ generation.