A divorce every five minutes in 2012: Recession caused more marriages to end, official figures show

There were 118,140 divorces in 2012

Social Affairs Correspondent

The number of couples divorcing went up in the aftermath of the recession, according to the latest official figures, which show 13 divorces happened every hour in 2012.

There were 118,140 divorces in 2012, up 0.5 per cent on 2011, the Office for National Statistics said. Almost half of these occurred in the first 10 years of marriage.

Older people are now more likely to divorce than before, while the numbers of marriages ending amongst those in their early twenties has gone down. The number of women aged 60 and over divorcing is up more than three per cent since 2011, to 6,026 women. Amongst men the increase is 2.8 per cent, to 9,703.

Meanwhile, the number of under-20s divorcing is at its lowest since 1963, with just two men and 25 women granted a divorce in 2012.

Analysis by statisticians at ONS said the recession and its aftermath might explain the overall rise in divorces. The statistics authority said: “One theory suggests that recession could contribute to a rise in partnership break-ups because of increased financial strain, changes in employment and related lifestyle changes... In addition some individuals may believe they will get a more favourable divorce settlement if their income is currently low.”

Couples waiting for the economy to pick up may also have played a part, according to ONS, since the economy came out of its double dip recession in 2012. ONS said: “An alternative theory suggests that partnerships would be less likely to dissolve in an unfavourable economic climate because of an increase in family solidarity during difficult times and the need to postpone marital break-ups until the economy, and the value of their home improves.”

The rise goes against a general trend of declining divorce numbers over the last decade, which has happened alongside a reduction in the numbers marrying in the first place. The number of divorces in 2012 is still almost a fifth lower than it was a decade earlier.

Ruth Sutherland, Chief Executive of Relate, said: “We are saddened by the news that the number of divorces has risen slightly in 2012, especially as they had been in decline for the past few years. However, it’s important to remember that divorce figures only capture part of the picture of our relationship health. For example, we hear anecdotally that more couples are now living together because they can’t afford to separate, and we know that the number of couples in cohabiting relationships has increased. Divorce rates don’t tell us the full story for these couples.

“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.

According to ONS projections, it is expected that 42 per cent of marriages will now end in divorce. One in seven divorces was registered as happening as a result of adultery and almost half of couples dissolving their marriage had at least one child under-16.

Compared with 2002, divorce rates in England and Wales are higher in 2012 for men aged 50 and above and for women aged 45 and above, while divorce rates for below those ages are lower.

The mean age for men ending their marriage is 44.7 years-old, up from 44.5 in 2011. For women it is 42.2, up from 42.1 years in 2011.

Divorce lawyer Marilyn Stowe said she was not surprised to see divorce numbers increase. “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.”

Women in their late twenties had the highest divorce rates of all female age groups, with 23.6 divorcing per thousand married women aged 25 to 29 in 2012. This continues a pattern seen over the last two decades.

The change in the age that people are most likely to end a union is in part because people are getting married later in life and a trend for people remarrying, according to ONS. Almost one in ten divorces were for people who already had a previous marriage.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie