As the economy begins to recover (albeit slower than initially forecast) the divorce rate is expected to increase dramatically and law firms are readying themselves for the anticipated extra strain on their family departments.
It is thought that economic recovery will replenish the personal finances married couples. With more money in the their pockets, lawyers predict that those spouses’ who postponed filing for divorce during the recession due to fears over legal fees and assets, will be more inclined to end their marriage.
Law firms across the country have already seen divorce work increase by nearly a third over the past year as the green shoots of recovery have started to show, whereas four years ago as the recession took hold, divorce cases had declined sharply. Indeed, our divorce solicitors saw a marked decrease in divorce work in the early stages of the recession, but by contrast, recent months have seen such work increase to the point that we had to employ another divorce solicitor!
It is widely thought that the drop in the divorce rate in November 2008 was attributable to the fact that couples had to postpone their divorces due to fears about job security and losing value on their marital property by divorcing during an economic crisis. However, some sociologists have disputed this, pointing to 2010’s 4.9% increase in the divorce rate to suggest that recession will in fact place added strain on married couples as they argue over finances and eventually divorce.
In fact, it appears likely that the increase in the divorce rate in the second half of the recession is ‘the exception that proves the rule’. As the recession wore on, couples became more certain of their job security and saw the value of their property begin to creep up again. In turn they felt more comfortable petitioning for divorce with seemingly bluer economic skies on the horizon.
Whilst the recovery has only recovered at a snail’s pace, the combination of these temperate improvements with the longevity of the recession has led people to start petitioning for divorce having put it off for months in some cases. This recession is the longest in half a century and it’s quite possible that people developed recession fatigue and opted for divorce even with only limited signs of economic improvement.
George Osborne’s autumn statement will have done little to ease this fatigue and with fiscal targets not expected to be met for 8 years it is likely that the divorce boom may come a little later than family lawyers had expected. Nonetheless, it appears likely that the divorce rate will only increase from here on in.
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