Monday, November 24, 2008

Financial crisis sees divorce rates fall in Spain

After rising steadily for a quarter of a century, to more than 100,000 a year, divorce numbers in Spain went into a clear decline earlier this year, when the meltdown of the country's key property sector and the beginnings of the global financial crisis put an end to more than a decade of economic growth. With unemployment rising and house prices dropping, as many as 30 per cent of couples who might have divorced are hanging on. Some might even stay together permanently, says Madrid lawyer Antonio Prada. "The economic crisis would help to preserve marriages" in cases where the partners have at least friendly relations, he adds.

Couples who can't stand the sight of each other, however, are resorting to "internet divorces" based on standard contracts supplied by law forms charging low fees. These create problems, says Prada, because they do not deal with the details of dividing property, child custody and other specifics. Spain legalised divorce in 1981 and Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero's Socialist government made it easier in 2005, putting it on a no-fault basis. The economic slump is also bringing adult children back home as they lose their jobs or find difficulty obtaining mortgages or credit to start a business. The number of young people leaving home fell last year and the number of 30-somethings moving back has risen. ~ Deutsche Welle

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