The number of couples divorcing jumped 4.9 per cent last year, its highest in nearly a decade.
There were 119,589 marital breakdowns in England and Wales in 2010, compared with 113,949 in 2009.
The figures from the Office of National Statistics reveal the highest annual increase in divorces in eight years.
The ONS suggested that the rise could be down to the financial strain on couples brought on by the recession in 2008 and 2009.
It said: “The figures show that divorce rates continued their downward trend during 2008 and 2009 but increased in 2010.
“This could be consistent with the theory recession is associated with an increased risk of divorce – but with a delayed impact, perhaps reflecting a couple’s wait for an economic recovery to lift the value of their assets or the time lag between separation and obtaining a decree absolute.”
The last time there was a similar increase was in 2003 when divorces were at 153,065, up from 147,735 in the previous year.
The figures from the ONS also reveal that break-ups were highest among men and women in the 40-44 age bracket.