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Divorce climbs in latest ONS figures

The number of people divorcing in England and Wales rose by 0.5 per cent in 2012, according to the latest statistical bulletin from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

There were a total of 118,140 divorces in 2012, compared to 117,558 during 2011. Most divorces took place amongst people in their early 40s, the figures reveal.

The divorce rate declined substantially between 2003 and 2009, from 153,065 to 113,949, then jumped again, by nearly five per cent, in 2010. According to the ONS, the decline in the marriage rate in the years to 2009 is “consistent with a decline in the number of marriages”.

Personally I am not surprised to see the number of divorces beginning to increase again. Over the past 18 months, we have opened an additional three offices to meet an increased demand for our services.

I believe the economic situation, with the UK falling in and out of recession, has played a key role: a greater number of businesses go into liquidation when a country emerges from recession, and in my experience this principle applies to marriages too. 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.

I also wonder if the ‘Olympics Effect’ has played a part in the rise. Our offices around the country were unusually quiet over the period around London 2012, but became exceptionally busy again afterwards. At the time, it was well-documented that many more families were staying home for their holidays. Could it be that for marriages already in trouble, the additional time spent together at home proved to be a tipping point?

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Andrew says:

    Or could it be that the recovery, such as it is, allows couples to contemplate divorce for whom it would previously have meant ruin for both?

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Andrew
      It could. Do you remember the 90s? After the recession the numbers of divorcing couples climbed.

  2. Andrew says:

    Remember the 90’s?

    Marilyn, dear heart, I remember the 50’s, though not as an adult!

  3. Luke says:

    With the marriage rate dropping so low I am really surprised that the divorce rate has stayed level – let alone slightly increased.

  4. JamesB says:

    Yes Luke, the number of people married is at a low point as a result. The number of people in their 1st marriages is at an all time low by an even bigger margain. To be fair to Marilyn, she does post those items of news also. I think there are more non marrieds than marrieds in the population currently.

  5. JamesB says:

    I think I will still advise my children to get married, but probably to leave it relatively late and get pre nups.

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