Divorce rate up 'because of recession', report says

image captionThe recession of 2008/9 could be to blame for more marriages failing

The divorce rate in England and Wales has gone up, possibly because of the last recession, according to a report.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said there were 118,140 divorces in 2012, up 0.5% on 2011.

Between 2003 and 2009 there was a general downward trend in the number of divorces, but in 2010 they rose 4.9%.

"One theory suggests recession could contribute to a rise in partnership break-ups because of increased financial strain," the report says.

The ONS said there were approximately 13 divorces an hour granted in England and Wales in 2012. Almost half occurred in the first 10 years of marriage.

The report said: "Recent trends could be consistent with the theory that recession is associated with an increased risk of divorce, but with a delayed impact.


Marilyn Stowe, a senior partner at Stowe Family Law, said the economic situation had played "a key role" in the rate of divorce.

She said: "Couples will struggle through times of adversity as best they can, but eventually find that despite their best efforts, they simply can't go on any longer."

Vicki McLynn, partner at law firm Pannone, also said the improving economic situation may have encouraged divorce.

She said: "The fact that there has been a slight increase could be attributed to couples believing that they can finally afford to divorce now the recession appears to be coming an end.

"Commonly, they feel that in a healthier economy, they may be more likely to find jobs and financial security to sustain them after they separate."

Ruth Sutherland, chief executive of relationship charity Relate, said: "What matters to us is the quality of a relationship, rather than status.

"Ultimately people's happiness and wellbeing is of paramount importance and strong couple relationships are proven to be an important part of that."

It is expected that more than two thirds of marriages will end in divorce.

Family Justice Minister Simon Hughes called on couples to use mediation instead of battling it out in court.

He said: "Mediation works. We are committed to making sure that more people make use of it rather than go through the confrontational and stressful experience of going to court.

"These figures show thousands of people are sadly still divorcing each year. We want them to do it in the least damaging way for everyone involved, especially children."

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