Divorce rate declines - and is likely to fall further

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The Independent Online
Divorce has dropped for the first time in five years, and the trend seems set to continue, according to the Office for National Statistics.

There were just over 158,000 divorces in 1994 - a decrease of 4.2 per cent - and provisional figures for 1995 suggest that this figure may drop again to 155,500. The length of marriage has remained stable at 9.8 years.

There was also a decrease in marriages, with just over 291,000 taking place in England and Wales - a 2.7 per cent drop. The largest fall was amongst those where both partners were marrying for the first time.

The average age for marriage has continued to rise with the average age of a bachelor at marriage now 28.5 and a spinster 26.5. Saturday was the most popular day to marry.

Sarah Bowler, chief executive of Relate, which counsels 60,000 couples in England and Wales annually, said: "From our point of view, the older people are when they get married probably the better. They are more mature and make better partner choices."