LONDON — How does recession affect marriage and divorce? According to a new British study, which surveyed divorce lawyers across the U.K., the steep drop in housing prices is causing married couples to shy away from divorce.
“Lawyers believe they will see [fewer] couples filing for divorce during the credit crunch,” Robert Kerr, a partner with accounting firm Grant Thornton’s Forensic and Investigation Services, told Reuters. “Reasons vary, but certainly the financial carve-up that follows a divorce settlement will be at the forefront of a couple’s minds when contemplating divorce.”
Grant Thornton, which conducted the survey, implied that tough financial times may also be causing more long-term British couples to eschew the expense of a formal wedding. “There is also an increasing number of people who decide to cohabit but not marry,” Suvra Datta, a spokesperson for the firm, told Reuters.
The report reveals that nearly 50% of family lawyers who participated in the study believe that the financial slump has caused the number of divorces to decline, and that the situation will continue.
Furthermore, engaged couples in Britain are now more likely to settle financial agreements before marriage, while being less eager to agree to prenuptial lump-sum agreements, as such agreements don’t take the depreciation of assets into consideration.
The study results reflect recent figures from the United Kingdom’s Office of National Statistics. According to data published earlier this year, the country’s divorce rate is at its lowest point in 26 years, having fallen from 12.2 to 11.9 (per 1,000 couples) in 2007. Of the couples that do divorce, the amount that cites financial woes as a factor has doubled in the past two years.
“I can only imagine that this trend will continue to rise particularly in an economic downturn,” Kerr added, “when people feel increasingly vulnerable about their financial position.”