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Downturn impacts UK divorces

FEWER British couples are filing for divorce as a sharp drop in property prices makes it hard for couples to sell a joint home, and the credit crunch dampens a desire to fund two separate households, a study claims.

The study, published by Grant Thornton accountants, showed that almost half of all surveyed matrimonial lawyers believe the numbers of divorces has slumped - and will continue to do so - because of the financial squeeze.

"Lawyers believe they will see less couples filing for divorce during the credit crunch," said Robert Kerr, partner at Grant Thornton's Forensic and Investigation Services.

"Reasons vary but certainly the financial carve-up that follows a divorce settlement will be at the forefront of a couple's minds when contemplating divorce," he added.

Data published by the British Office for National Statistics earlier this year showed the number of people getting divorced fell from 12.2 per 1,000 couples in 2006 to 11.9 in 2007, and is currently at a 26-year low.

The survey also found newlyweds are increasingly eager to settle financial agreements ahead of tying the knot, and are steering away from pre-nuptial "lump sum agreements" which do not take the falling value of assets into account. "I can only imagine that this trend will continue to rise particularly in an economic downturn when people feel increasingly vulnerable about their financial position," said Kerr.

The number of couples that cite financial problems as a factor in their split has more than doubled in the past two years, but still lags behind other reasons including extra marital affairs, abuse and mid-life crises.


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