Economic tough times are tying families closer together and reducing divorces in Shanghai, China's financial hub, authorities said on Friday.
In Shanghai, 36,811 couples filed for divorce at the city's civil affairs department in 2008 - 284 fewer than in 2007, according to officials at the Shanghai Municipal Civil Affairs Bureau.
In 2006, the number was 37,395, following a continuous increase since 1978 when 422 couples filed for divorce.
"People tend to look for stable relationships and cherish their families more during economic turmoil," said Zhou Jixiang, an official with the bureau.
Tang Jian'an, a divorce lawyer, is seeing fewer clients, especially those who are rich and successful.
"They, mainly men, have to focus more on saving their businesses and have no time to tend to family crises," he said. "Even when they do, they will try to reach an agreement on property, children and support issues, because filing for a divorce takes time and they just don't have that much time for that."
Jia Mingjun, another divorce lawyer in Shanghai, sees the same trend.
Fan Wenjia, a lawyer in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, said that some couples have come to him for divorce and not gone through with it because of the cost, according to the Yangtze Evening News.
"When I told them how much more they need to pay for children or a loan every month, and how much they need to pay for the divorce, they withdrew the decision," he said.
Zhang Yi, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that divorce rates typically go down during periods of economic woes, as in 1998, when Asia experienced another financial crisis.
In 1998, the country's divorce rate was 0.98 percent.