15 Nov 2013 01:15pm

Downturn impacts on divorce rates

Sometimes the recession throws up some surprising effects, as Grant Thornton’s tenth annual matrimonial survey reveals

The number of divorce proceedings has gone down and the age of those actually getting divorced has gone up.

GT forensic and investigation partner Nick Andrews says, “In tough economic times when people’s budgets are tight, it is perhaps not surprising to see a fall in the divorce rate. Now that there is continuing positive economic news, it could be that the divorce rate will start to edge up again.”

The survey of 85 of the UK’s leading family lawyers reveals that the recession has led to a delay in starting divorce proceedings (79%) or even shelving them altogether – 49% said they had seen a drop in numbers.

What has not changed, however, is the desire of people in the throes of a divorce to hide their assets from their spouse or partner: 91% of lawyers said they had had cases which revealed concealed or missing assets.

Concealment is clearly a major issue, fellow GT forensic partner Chris Clements says, pointing to recent cases, including Prest v Petrodel and Young v Young. “What is clear is that concealment, particularly in corporates, will require detailed analysis of the financial records in order to confirm the true position.”

The survey also reveals that the group most likely to get divorced are people in their 40s. Falling out of love is the most common reason, followed by extramarital affairs.

The firm warns that there could be trouble ahead if the divorce rate does start to go up. Thanks to cuts in public spending, the number of people representing themselves in court for family proceedings is rising. This will inevitably cause problems, not just for the divorcing couples but for the already heavily congested courts.

Julia Irvine


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