Not many couples divorce these days. It’s because they don’t marry.
The good news is that the divorce rate in England and Wales has fallen to a record low in more than three decades, but the not-so-good news is that it doesn’t necessarily mean that marriages have become more stable.
Divorce lawyers and marriage counsellors believe that the decline, though welcome, may have something to do with the current economic crisis.
Widespread unemployment and a fall in purchasing power may be forcing estranged couples, who may have otherwise filed for divorce, to stick together until the recession is over.
Experts warn that the divorce rate tends to pick up after a recession. A leading divorce lawyer said that at the start of the deep recession in 2008-2009, his firm saw a sharp fall in business. “But when the bonuses came back the next year, business picked up again,” he told The Financial Times .
Some believe that the rise in live-in relationships may have contributed to a decline in hasty marriages that could end in divorce.
The Office for National Statistics, which released the divorce figures, said the trend towards cohabitation “may act to filter out weaker relationships from progressing to marriage”.
The figures contradict the view that the longer a marriage lasts the more stable it is likely to become. There was a rise in divorce among older men — 60 plus — during the same period that the overall rate fell.