Divorce on the rise again as debt-ridden couples save up for split
30 July 2010
Often the most unlikely signs can point towards the end of a recession, with divorce being touted as the new mark of economic prosperity.
That's right, in the last quarter there has been an apparent resurgence in the number of British couples heading for the divorce courts, which has been taken to mean that some warring husbands and wives have now taken control of their finances and are stumping up the funds to obtain the decree nisi.
Manchester-based family law firm, Pannone, has reported a six per cent rise in couples pressing ahead with marriage splits in the last three months.
Partner Andrew Newbury said family law colleagues elsewhere around the country were indicating similar increases, suggesting five years of consecutive falls in divorce numbers could be at an end.
Mr Newbury added that many separations featured spouses who had put their break-ups on hold because of recent bleak economic conditions.
"Husbands and wives have been telling us that they felt they simply couldn't afford to break up during the last two years and were often living under the same roof both knowing that their marriages had no future in the medium-term, let alone well into the future," he said.
"Some of those couples had come to us before the recession really bit to initiate proceedings but then decided not to continue as the economic picture worsened. They now believe the upturn in their financial circumstances has provided what they believe to be the right moment
for them to make a break."
The most recent available figures, released by the Office of National Statistics earlier this year, revealed that the number of divorces in England and Wales in 2008 had fallen by five per cent - the fifth successive drop.
But Pannone believes that some spouses have been relying on an upswing in the economy to enhance the value of their possible share of marital assets.
The firm has the largest family department of any outside London and handles in excess of 800 divorces a year.
Mr Newbury said that question marks about the continued recovery might spur couples into rushing ahead with divorces in case economic prospects worsened in the months to come.
"There are couples with doubts about whether their marriages will last, wondering whether they should speed up the process of separation to take advantage of any economic improvements.
"Just as the loss of jobs and drop in salaries undoubtedly contributed to tensions between spouses, there is every indication that relationships which are already under stress are suffering even more as husbands or wives deliberate about whether or not to file for divorce."
A recent study by debt solutions provider Atlantic Financial Management showed that 10% of Britons seeking debt help stated that divorce or separation was the reason why they had fallen into debt.
Clients going through a divorce or separation often face a substantial upheaval of their finances, and can even be left with an unmanageable debt spiral to cope with, especially if existing debts that have been taken out in one name, but were previously paid jointly, fall to the person whose name is attached to it.
There are additional factors that make divorcing couples particularly vulnerable to debt problems, such as the cost of divorce proceedings, which can reach, on average, £13,000. Few can say that they have that amount lying spare, and many people seeking a quick divorce will turn to credit to cover it.