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.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
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

Year 5 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd are seeking KS...

Year 6 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd are seeking KS...

Automation Test Lead (C#, Selenium, SQL, XML, Web-Services)

£50000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Automation Tes...

Business Anaylst

£60000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Business Anal...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering