The number of divorces dropped in Spain in 2008 compared to a year earlier, official figures showed Thursday, in what was seen as a sign that couples were hesitating to split amid the country's worst recession in decades.
The number of divorces in 2008, when the economic downturn began, fell 12.5 percent over the previous year to 110,036 and its lowest number since 2005, national statistics institute INE said in a statement.
There were 8,761 separations last year, a 24.4 percent drop over 2007, it added.
The average length of marriages which were terminated last year by either divorce or separations, was 15.6 years while the largest number of break ups was recorded among those between the ages of 40 and 49.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s the divorce rate dropped sharply in the United States and many sociologists believe the number of marital splits in countries around the world is falling because of the economic downturn.
Spain entered its first recession in 15 years at the end of 2008 as the global credit crunch hastened a correction that was already under way in its key property sector.
The slowdown has caused the unemployment rate in Spain to soar to nearly 18 percent, twice the average for the 27-nation European Union.
The number of divorces soared in Spain after a new law came into effect in June 2005 that eliminated a requirement that couples be physical separate for a period of time before divorce proceedings could begin.
The new law also did away with the need for couples to provide a reason, such as infidelity or alcoholism, for seeking a divorce.
A total of 126,952 divorces were registered in 2006, a 74.3 percent jump over the previous year when the law came into effect.