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Marriage, divorce and millennials: parental influence

Marriage, divorce and millennials: parental influence

Even if you ascribe more to nature than nurture, the impact that our parents have on us cannot be disputed. From choice of career to more minute personality traits, parental influence is pervasive. But with marriage among millennials (those currently between 28 and 43 years old[1]) continuing to decline, does this influence extend to our views of marriage and divorce?

For those growing up in more traditional households, marriage may seem a natural part of life – indeed, some traditional families are likely to save for the weddings of any daughters they may have later down the line. For those from families with divorced parents, or just a less traditional background, the view is rather different.

My parents split up when I was 11, says Tom, 26, They were never married, and I think they made the right decision on that front. It was hard enough without any extra legal complications.

Changing social habits, especially in regard to divorce, will naturally shape our perceptions and two key trends stand out: marriage continues to be less and less popular – with under 50% of over-16s in England and Wales being married or in a civil partnership, and on the other side, statistics show that the divorce rate is highest among the older generations[2].

For the younger half of those who fall into the millennial bracket it is therefore likely that their parents will divorce or already are divorced.

While this may go some way to explaining why millennials are less likely to tie the knot, it seems to also have had an impact on the divorce rate. While less people are getting married, it appears that less couples are also getting divorced. While we cant tell from these statistics whether or not parental expectations and personal experiences of being from a divorced family play a part for those who choose to stay together, examples can help to shed some light. For instance, Grace, recently divorced, said:

Telling my parents was one of the hardest parts. It was an amicable split, my husband and I worked things out well between ourselves, but I think my parents were more invested in our marriage than we were. I think my mum worried that I was making the same mistakes as her when I decided to have kids young, but Im happy with my life, and I hope she understands that, even if were not a perfect 2.4 family anymore.

Until someone sees fit to conduct more research we wont know for sure, but with the current statistics we do have and additional anecdotal evidence, there seems to be a pattern emerging. As with financial situations, when it comes to marriage, we seem to be influenced by our parents experiences – more hesitancy in getting married, perhaps linked to our own experiences of having divorced parents. In terms of our choice on whether to divorce, it seems that millennials and younger generations are much more influenced by our own personal needs first.

It is always helpful to have the advice and guidance of a family law expert if you are considering divorce or separation. Vardags has a dedicated team of highly-experienced family lawyers who are adept at providing tailor-made advice to meet your needs, as well as safeguarding and representing your interests in and out of court. We offer a free consultation with one of our experts, so please do get in touch with us to arrange a meeting.

 

[1] In 2024

[2] Highest among those aged 45 to 49 (in the Gen X category in 2024)

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