Couples living together are twice as likely to split up as those who are married, according to government figures.
The data, from the Office for National Statistics, shows that four out of five married couples are still together after ten years. For cohabiting couples, this figure stands at just three in five.
The figures show that even when outside factors, such as age, social class and whether or not children are involved, are considered, marriage is still more stable than cohabitation.
For those who are living together and do not plan to marry, the data may highlight the importance of drawing up a cohabitation agreement to avoid any disputes over jointly held assets in the event of a break-up.
According to official figures, there were 232,990 marriages in England and Wales in 2008 - the lowest number since 1895. The marriage peak was reached in 1972, when 480,285 couples wed.
Published on: April 22, 2010