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Marriage 'back in fashion'

Marriage is back in fashion, it has been claimed, as the latest statistics show a rise in the number of couples in England and Wales choosing to tie the knot.

More than 260,000 marriages took place in 2012, an increase of 5.3% on the previous year, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed.

One of the 249,133 weddings in 2011 was that of Kate Middleton and Prince William, which was watched live by millions around the world.

A family law expert said the latest figures showed that "traditional marriage is back in fashion".

Andrew Newbury, head of family law at Slater & Gordon solicitors, said: "Whilst the statistics do not indicate a reversal of the general trend towards cohabitation, they do show an increase in the number of couples marrying for the first time and doing so in a religious setting.

"It is the first rise in religious weddings in the course of three decades, although as this data is based on merely the number of marriages in a single year, it's too early to say whether it is an exception or the start of something more significant."

While the average age of marriage for men and women was 36 and 34 respectively, nuptials for pension-age couples had increased by around a quarter in that one-year period.

Mr Newbury said people were now beginning new chapters later in life.

"In the past, people might have considered that they might be too old to remarry once they'd reached pension age," he said.

"However, that baby boomer generation with longer life expectancy, improved health and financial security can see that it's not necessarily too late to start a new life.

"Going by current examples, it's still possible to have a long and happy marriage after the age of 65."

Also commenting on the figures, Marilyn Stowe, senior partner at Stowe Family Law, said the continued trend of cohabitation before marriage presents a case for further protection for couples living together.

On the back of statistics which showed 42% of marriages ended in divorce, Ms Stowe said: "W ith so many people marrying later in life a fair division of assets, should they ultimately separate, would bring clarity and simplicity to what is still an all too cumbersome process."

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