The upturn in the economy could trigger a surge in divorces, new research has suggested.

The tenth annual matrimonial survey of leading UK family lawyers by advisory firm Grant Thornton, published on 27 January, found that 49 per cent of the 85 lawyers questioned said they had seen a decrease in the number of divorces due to the recession.

A total of 79 per cent thought the recession has led people to delay commencing divorce proceedings. The report’s authors said: “Economic recovery may therefore lead to an increase in the volume of divorce work, as previously delayed proceedings are instigated.”

The research also revealed the highest proportion of long marriages ending in divorce since the survey began, with 14 per cent of respondents saying that the majority of divorces they dealt with involved marriages of more than 20 years, up from only four per cent in 2012. Other findings included:

  • 63 per cent of lawyers said the majority of marriages involved were between 11 and 20 years
  • 86 per cent said that the most common age of their divorce clients was 40 to 49, with a further ten per cent saying 30 to 39
  • the most popular reason for divorce was growing apart, cited by 29 per cent of lawyers, followed by an extra-marital affair (24 per cent)
  • other reasons included unreasonable behaviour, mid-life crisis, financial or money worries, emotional/physical abuse, workaholism, stress, family strain and business problems.

Looking ahead to the trends they expected to see over the next ten years, more than a quarter of the lawyers questioned (27 per cent) said they expected their advisory work to increase, for example in drafting cohabitation agreements or pre/post marital agreements.