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Presents latest statistics on marriages and civil partnerships formed, dissolved and annulled. Cohabitation between non-married couples is also explored.

Publications

Annual Report of the Registrar General (Northern Ireland)
Department: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
Finalised data for all births, deaths, marriages, civil partnerships and divorces along with population data for the year in question.
Census 2001 Commentaries by theme and region
Department: Office for National Statistics
The Census paints a big picture of society and is a benchmark at the start of the 21st Century. Census 2001 commentaries look in a little more depth at the 'big picture' for the UK, and provide commentary on aspects of a topic in England and Wales as a whole, and on topics in Wales or the English regions. The counts that the commentaries are based on come from the Key Statistics for local authorities in England and Wales released in February 2003.
Census 2001 Key Statistics
Department: Office for National Statistics
The Census 2001 Key Statistics series of reports provide a compact and self-contained reference of key results from the Census in an easily digestible form. Each report includes results for every topic covered by the Census, for a range of different geographical breakdowns of England and Wales.
Census 2001 Local Authority Profiles
Department: Office for National Statistics
The Census 2001 population profiles collect key figures from the first major reports on the 2001 Census - the 'key statistics for local authorities in England and Wales' - originally released in February 2003. This snapshot of the resident population provides population totals by age and sex and summary profile information covering People, Places and Families, Ethnicity and Religion, Health, Work and Housing.
Census 2001 Local authority thematic maps
Department: Office for National Statistics
The Census 2001 thematic maps illustrate the distribution of a selection of the key statistics from the Census, for local authorities throughout England and Wales.
Census 2001 National Report for England and Wales
Department: Office for National Statistics
The Census 2001 National Report for England and Wales contains detailed statistical tables that cover the range of topics from the 2001 Census. Released in two parts, the report contains results for England and Wales as a whole, in a variety of tables. Standard tables provide cross-tabulation of two or more variables, theme tables bring together a range of results on a particular population and supplementary tables provide further information on some individual variables.
Census 2001 Report for Parliamentary Constituencies
Department: Office for National Statistics
The Census 2001 Report for parliamentary constituencies provides a compact and self-contained reference of key results for constituencies throughout the UK. The constituency profiles are a summary of the main Census indicators for each consituency, with more detailed results available on the CD accompanying the printed report. Results are provided for European Electoral Regions, Scottish Parliamentary Regions and Parliamentary Constituencies in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Census 2001 Summary theme figures and rankings
Department: Office for National Statistics
The Census 2001 Summary theme figures and rankings provide counts and rankings on aspects of a topic for each local authority in England and Wales. Each local authority has an England and Wales ranking, and local authorities are also grouped into Government Office Regions to provide a regional ranking. The counts and rankings are based on figures from the Key Statistics for local authorities in England and Wales which was originally released in February 2003.
Civil Partnership Statistics, United Kingdom
Department: Office for National Statistics
Annual data on civil partnerships formed and dissolved (UK) of same sex people. Analysed by sex, age, previous marital status and area of occurrence.
Cohabitation Estimates: England and Wales
Department: Office for National Statistics
The number of people aged 16 and over in each marital status category who are in an opposite-sex, co-residential cohabiting partnership, by age and sex.
Divorces and Dissolutions in Scotland
Department: Scottish Government
Statistics relating to Divorces and Dissolutions of Civil Partnerships
Divorces in England and Wales
Department: Office for National Statistics
Tables contain dissolutions and annulments of marriage by previous marital status, sex and age of divorcees, children and facts proven and to whom granted.
Families and Households
Department: Office for National Statistics
Presents estimates of families by type, including married and cohabiting couple families and lone parents. Tables on household size and household types are also provided.
Marital Status Population Projections for England & Wales
Department: Office for National Statistics
Marital status projections are produced for England and Wales and cover both legal marital status and (opposite sex) co-residential cohabitation.
Marriage, Divorce and Adoption Statistics, England and Wales (Series FM2)
Department: Office for National Statistics
Discontinued Publication - Provides annual statistics on marriages solemnised, dissolved and annulled, as well as adoption orders in England and Wales.
Marriages in England and Wales (provisional)
Department: Office for National Statistics
Annual data on marriages in England and Wales. Marriages abroad not included. Non-residents are included. Derived as part of civil registration.
Marriages, Divorces and Civil Partnerships in Northern Ireland
Department: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
Number of marriages, divorces and civil partnerships registered in Northern Ireland during the registration year.
Older people divorcing
Department: Office for National Statistics
Divorces amongst those aged 60 and over. Includes divorce rates, how long marriages have lasted, and whether divorces are granted to husbands or wives.
Opinions and Lifestyle Survey
Department: Office for National Statistics
An omnibus survey that collects information on a range of topics from people living in private households in Great Britain.
Registrar General Quarterly Report (Northern Ireland)
Department: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
Births, Deaths, Marriages and Civil Partnerships registered in Northern Ireland during each quarter.
Vital Statistics: Population and Health Reference Tables
Department: Office for National Statistics
These tables provide annual and quarterly data for a selection of key statistics under the following themes: population, demography and health.

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Overview

Marriage and divorce data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) presents statistics on marriages solemnised, dissolved and annulled in England and Wales. Marriage statistics focus on both characteristics of couples such as age and previous marital status, types of ceremonies, for example, civil or religious, including denomination, time of year and area of occurrence.

Divorce information includes age and marital status at the time of marriage, duration of marriage, age at divorce, the number and ages of children involved and the grounds for divorce.

Civil partnership statistics published by the ONS presents data on civil partnerships formed and dissolved in the UK. The Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into force on 5 December 2005 in the UK; the first day couples could give notice of their intention to form a civil partnership. The Act enables same-sex couples aged 16 and over to obtain legal recognition of their relationship.

Cohabitation is an ONS harmonised survey classification and applies to all people in households. In the 2001 Census, living arrangements were calculated by combining the responses to the questions on legal marital status and the relationship question.

In the General Household Survey and Labour Force Survey, living arrangements are asked directly in the questionnaires. One of the main reasons for analysing living arrangements is so that cohabiting couples can be identified. Cohabiting couples may be married or have any other marital status.

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Technical Data

Marriages

Marriage statistics are based on details collected when a marriage is performed. The information is from the entry in the marriage register. The majority of the details are supplied by the bride and bridegroom to the person registering the marriage. This person may be a member of the clergy, an authorised person for a religious marriage, a secretary of the synagogue, a registering officer of the Society of Friends, or a civil registrar.

In recent years, it has become increasingly popular for couples to choose to get married abroad. There is no legal requirement for marriages of persons usually resident in England and Wales that are performed outside England and Wales to be registered by the General Register Office. For this reason, there are no accurate statistics available for the total number of residents of England and Wales married overseas.

The marriage tables look at both characteristics of couples such as age and previous marital status and at the types of ceremonies, for example, civil or religious, including denomination, time of year and area of occurrence.

For full technical information see the Marriages Product Page.

Divorces

A marriage may be either:

  • Dissolved, following a petition for divorce and the granting of a decree absolute, or

  • Annulled, following a petition for nullity and the awarding of a decree of nullity

In the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) divorce statistics, the term ‘divorce’ includes both types of decrees, although, strictly speaking, it should refer only to dissolutions.

Divorce statistics are compiled on the on the basis of decrees made absolute and decrees of nullity as derived from the D105 form sent to ONS by courts.

Divorce information includes age and marital status at the time of marriage, duration of marriage, age at divorce, the number and ages of children involved, and the grounds for divorce.

For full technical information see the Divorces Product Page.

Civil Partnerships

Civil partnership statistics for England and Wales are based on details collected when a civil partnership is formed. The information is from the entry on the Registration OnLine (RON) system which transmits daily civil partnership data over the internet to the ONS. The details are supplied by both civil partners to the person registering the civil partnership. This person may be a civil partnership registrar or a person authorised to carry out a civil partnership registration.

The civil partnership tables look at characteristics of couples such as age and previous legal partnership status, and at time of year and area of occurrence.

Civil Partnership Dissolutions

A civil partnership may either be:

  • Dissolved,  following the presentation of an application and the granting of a final order, or

  • Annulled, following the presentation of an application and the granting of a final order of nullity

In ONS civil partnership dissolution statistics, the term 'civil partnership dissolution' includes both types of orders, although strictly speaking, it should only refer to dissolutions.

Civil partnership dissolution statistics are compiled from the D106 forms sent to ONS by courts.

Cohabitation

The Census and most government surveys, including the General Household Survey (GHS) and the Labour Force Survey (LFS), collect statistical data on households and their members. As a result, there are a number of different sources available, each with their own purpose and advantages.

Data from the LFS provide a large sample of all people in households. It gives UK-wide coverage of all major family types. The LFS has provided full and comprehensive family data since 1996 when the relationship matrix was introduced.

The Census can be used for more detailed analysis. For example, analysis by lower level geography (county, borough or ward level), age and ethnic group. More detailed breakdowns of family types in the UK, such as by the age and number of children, are also possible.

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Glossary

  • Annulment

    An annulment of marriage occurs following a successful petition for nullity. It declares that the marriage itself is void (no valid marriage ever existed) or voidable (was legal at time of registration but is no longer legal). See Decree of Nullity. An annulment of civil partnership occurs following the presentation of an application and the granting of a final order of nullity. It declares that the civil partnership is void (never existed) or voidable (was legal at time of registration but is no longer valid).

  • Approved Premises

    Under the Marriage Act 1994, civil marriages can be solemnised in approved premises (other than register offices). The Marriages & Civil Partnership (Approved Premises) Regulations 2005 allow for premises to be approved by a local authority for the solemnisation of marriages and the formation of civil partnerships. These include hotels, stately homes and historic buildings.

  • Authorised Person (Civil Partnerships)

    An authorised person is an employee or officer or other person provided by a registration authority who is authorised by that authority to attest notices of proposed civil partnership.

  • Authorised Person (Marriages)

    An Authorised Person is appointed by the trustees or governing body of a registered building to register marriages solemnised in the registered building in duplicate registers. The Registrar General and superintendent registrar of the district is notified of the name and address of that person.

  • Banns

    A marriage in the Church of England or Church of Wales requires the publication of banns of marriage on three Sundays preceding it. Banns ask for public confirmation that the parties involved are legally eligible for marriage.

  • Civil Marriage

    A civil marriage can take place at a register office or other buildings approved for civil marriage. The bride and bridegroom must personally give a formal notice of their intention to marry to the superintendent registrar of the district(s) where they have resided for the previous seven days. If either party is subject to immigration control then notice of marriage must be given at a designated register office.  Both parties must attend together. There are 76 designated register offices in England and Wales.

  • Civil Partnership

    The Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into force on 5 December 2005 in the UK, the first day couples could give notice of their intention to form a civil partnership. The Act enables same-sex couples aged 16 and over to obtain legal recognition of their relationship. The first day that couples could normally form a partnership was 19 December in Northern Ireland, 20 December in Scotland and 21 December in England and Wales.

  • Civil Partnership registrar

    Local authority employee responsible for the registration of civil partnerships.

  • Cohabitation

    Couples in relationships who live together, but are not married or in a civil partnership.

  • Decree Absolute

    Couples in relationships who live together, but are not married or in a civil partnership.

  • Decree Nisi

    Following the grounds for divorce being proven, the district judge grants a decree nisi as a provisional measure. Six weeks later the petitioner can apply for a decree absolute.

  • Decree of Nullity

    Granted upon an annulment of marriage following a petition for nullity, a decree of nullity declares that the marriage itself is void and that no valid marriage ever existed. An annulment of civil partnership occurs following the presentation of an application and the granting of a final order of nullity. It declares that the civil partnership is void (never existed) or voidable (was legal at time of registration but is no longer valid).See Annulment.

  • Department of Constitutional Affairs (DCA)

    Prior to 9 May 2007, the DCA, which was the precursor of the Ministry of Justice was responsible, among other things, for the administration of the court system in England and Wales through the Court Service. See Her Majesty's Court service.

  • Dissolution

    A dissolution of marriage occurs following a successful petition for divorce and ends a valid marriage. Dissolution of marriage covers nullity and divorce. See Decree Absolute and Annulment. A dissolution of civil partnership occurs following the presentation of an application and the granting of a final order and ends a valid civil partnership. To obtain a civil partnership dissolution in the UK, a couple must have been in either a registered civil partnership or recognised foreign relationship for twelve months.

  • Facts Proven

    A petitioner must prove one or more of four facts (adultery, behaviour, desertion or separation for a given period) in order to establish the irretrievable breakdown of a civil partnership.

  • General Household Survey (GHS)

    The GHS is a survey of households in Great Britain, which has been carried out since 1971. It provides households and families data over a longer period of time than the LFS, but is based on a smaller sample of the population of Great Britain. The family information section of the GHS allows more detail, such as analysis of step-families or relationship histories.

  • General Register Office (GRO)

    The GRO is responsible for ensuring the registration of all births, adoptions, marriages, civil partnerships and deaths that have occurred in England and Wales since 1837 and for maintaining a central archive.

  • Her Majesty’s Court Service

    Her Majesty’s Court Service is an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice and is responsible for the running of most of the courts and tribunals in England and Wales. Her Majesty’s Court Service supplies information on divorces and civil partnership dissolutions to ONS.

  • Judicial and Court Statistics

    This Annual Report of the Ministry of Justice shows statistics which relate to the criminal and civil business of those courts in England and Wales, including data on divorce and adoption.

  • Judicial Separation

    This is an alternative to divorce and does not dissolve the marriage but absolves the parties from the obligation to live together. This procedure might, for instance, be used if religious beliefs forbid or discourage divorce.

  • Lord Chancellor’s Department (LCD)

    Prior to 12 June 2003 and constitutional reforms, the LCD was responsible for the administration of the court system in England and Wales through the Court Service. It was subsumed into the DCA.

  • Marital status estimates

    The legal (de jure) marital status of an individual or couple. The introduction of Civil Partnerships has expanded the possible responses to questions on legal marital status.

  • Ministry of Justice

    Following constitutional reforms, the Ministry of Justice was created on 9 May 2007 replacing the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA). It is responsible, among other things, for the administration of the court system in England and Wales through the Court Service.

  • Nuptiality

    Collective term for marriage, separation, divorce, widowhood and remarriage that is commonly used by demographers to refer to the propensity of a population to get married.

  • Petitioner

    The person seeking a dissolution or annulment.

  • Registrar

    Local authority employee responsible for the registration of births, deaths and marriages.

  • Registrar General

    Statutory appointment with responsibility for the administration of the registration acts in England and Wales, and other related functions as specified by the relevant legislation.

  • Registration Officer

    Generic term for registrar, superintendent registrar and additional registrars.

  • Registration Scheme

    Organises the boundaries and specifies the name of registration districts within local authorities.

  • Religious Marriage

    Religious marriages can take place in Church of England or Church in Wales premises, as well as in other buildings registered for marriage which are certified as a place of worship. Religious marriages also include marriages solemnised according to the rites of the Society of Friends and those professing the Jewish religion.

  • Respondent

    The person to whom a petition for divorce has been served.

  • Single Men/Women

    Persons who have never been married or been in a civil partnership.

  • Solemnised Marriage

    A marriage legally occurs upon solemnisation at a ceremony, either religious or civil, and must follow the completion of legal preliminaries.

  • Superintendent Registrar

    Local authority employee with responsibilities relating to marriage, and other registration functions, as specified in the relevant legislation.

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Contact Details

For statistical enquiries about this topic, please contact:

Vital Statistics Outputs Branch

Email: vsob@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Telephone: +44 (0) 1329 444110

Vital Statistics Outputs Branch Office for National Statistics Segensworth Road Titchfield Fareham PO15 5RR

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