Fears of a prolonged recession in China have triggered a sharp increase in divorce inquiries addressed to lawyers and financial advisers, state media reported on Monday, with timing a key issue.
Wealthy spouses were keen to strike a deal while asset values were low, the China Daily quoted the director of the China Divorce Service Center, Shu Xin, as saying.
"While facing tough financial times is not usually the main reason couples split, it can serve as the last straw for already strained marriages or add new concerns to divorces under way," the newspaper said, quoting "marriage advisers."
Ming Li, who works for China's first marriage and finance firm, Shanghai Weiqing, said: "Many questions are about how to avoid paying off debts after the divorce and the number of such telephone inquiries has increased from 200 to 300 in recent months."
But China University of Political Science and Law professor Wu Changzhen said it may be too early to know the impact of the financial crisis on divorce rates.
"It seems the rates may have dropped since the downturn, because divorces are expensive," he was quoted as saying.
"It has become extremely difficult for couples wanting to divorce to sell their homes at a reasonable price and to maintain two separate households."
According to a separate story carried on the China News Service website, the number of people seeking divorce advice increased by 30 percent in the second half of this year.
Most of the inquiries were about how to protect property, it said.
There were 2.1 million divorces in China in 2007, nearly seven times the figure of 1980 when nationwide economic reforms were launched, the China Daily quoted the Ministry of Civil Affairs as saying.