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Just when you thought that the recent spell of economic woe couldn’t bring any more bad news, there’s this: the recession brought with it the end of more marriages.

There were nearly 120,000 divorces in the UK during 2012, up 0.5 per cent on the previous year. That’s a lot of unhappiness – and a lot of people struggling to divide up their finances and split the things they own together.

Who is getting divorced?

According to the Office for National Statistics, older people are now more likely to divorce than before, whereas the number of marriages ending among people in their twenties has dropped.

Meanwhile, compared with 2002, divorce rates in England and Wales are higher for men aged 50 and over and women aged 45 and over.

Why has the recession led to more divorces?

There are a number of possible reasons. One theory put forward by the boffins at the Office for National Statistics suggests that more people break up when under increased financial strain, as well as when facing changes in employment and the impact that can have on quality of life.

However, it’s not always when a financial situation is at its bleakest that relationships break down. Some experts believe that couples struggle on when times are financially hard but, at some point down the line, find they simply can’t carry on anymore.

There’s also a chance that relationships are less likely to go under when the economy’s in the doldrums because people stick together in difficult times. When the economy picks up and they feel more secure, that’s when they decide to call time on their partnership.

What’s the financial fallout of divorce?

Aside from the obvious problems of a joint mortgage or dual rental payments, there’s also the dilemma of who gets what. While some couples may be reluctant to take each other’s money or possessions, there will be others who want to walk away with as much as they can.

A recent report from Standard Life found that more than a third of people involve their husband or wife in day-to-day financial decisions and management, so it clearly makes sense for couples to chat about their finances before their marriage even begins.

It’s worth remembering that couples who argue about money are seen as more likely to get a divorce than those who row about other things such as children and the in-laws. So if you regularly do battle over cash, it could be a warning sign.

All in all, given that there was a general trend of declining divorce numbers over the past decade, the news that the number of splits increased in 2012 points to financial pressures proving just too much for many couples.

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