New ONS Statistics: Significant Changes in Family Types

August 22, 2019, By

New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that since 2015, the number of same-sex couples living together has grown by 50%, with the number of married same-sex couples quadrupling.

Sophie Sanders (of the ONS) has commented:

 Trends for opposite-sex and same-sex couple families are going in opposite directions… The share of opposite-sex married couple families is decreasing, while opposite-sex cohabiting couple families are increasing, although at a much slower rate of change than for same-sex couple families.”

Although the government is aiming to make marriage more accessible with more relaxed rules regarding wedding formalities, the findings from the ONS also show that cohabiting couples and those living on their own are the fastest growing family types in the UK.

Married couples remain the most common family type, but in the past 10 years the number of cohabiting couples in the UK has grown by a very significant 25.8%. As more couples opt for long-term cohabitation over marriage, there is a growing call for cohabitation law reform from some quarters.

At present, unlike the wide powers that the Family Court has on the breakdown of a marriage, the financial claims available at the end of a cohabiting relationship are much more limited. The myth of ‘common law’ marriages also persists, and the false impression this creates has real potential to cause significant financial hardship to the financially weaker person in a cohabiting relationship.