Christmas: The time for peace on earth and goodwill to all men – and the latest divorce rate stats from the Office for National Statistics(ONS).
According to data fresh in, the divorce rate for 2010 was just shy of 120,000. This is 5% up on the previous year and represents the first actual increase in the rate of divorce since 2003.
Apparently experts at the ONS blame the latest rise in divorce squarely on the downturn in the economy. The credit crunch has become the matrimonial crunch. At first sight this might seem counter intuitive. After all, you’d be forgiven for thinking that as the credit card bills start to mount up and house prices plummet, couples would tighten their belts and try to rub along with each other; at least until the negative equity turns back to positive and there is something more than a pile of debts to divide up. Traditionally, when the good times return they bring with them an increase in the divorce rate. This is exactly what happened after the recession of the early nineties, when the divorce rate soared. So the ONS stats are particularly worrying and indicate that we may just be heading for a second spike in the divorce rate, despite all the extra financial pressure this brings.
The ONS stats also reveal that seven out of ten divorces in 2010 involved couples who were both in their first marriage. Of the remaining 30%, at least one partner had been previously divorced or widowed. Half of divorcing couples had children under 16, while the most endangered age band is the 40-44 year olds. And the statustics suggest a new phenomenon, the 11 year itch, with the average duration of a UK marriage falling to just 11.4 years.
So if you are in your early 40’s, with young children and approaching the eleventh anniversary of your first marriage; be very careful this Christmas!
As the holidays approach it is also worth remembering that the festive abundance of mistletoe and whine can place an unbearable strain on the sanctimony of matrimony. Add in the current financial woes and even the strongest of relationships can feel the strain – Cameron and Sarkozy’s union certainly wont be the only one under fire this Christmas. Sadly, before many New Year’s resolutions have even been broken, the divorce rate statistics for 2012 will already be taking shape.