The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has released its latest figures on divorce in England and Wales. The data shows that there was a surge in new divorce applications in 2019 of over 18% compared to the previous year. This is believed to be the sharpest rise in divorce cases in nearly 50 years.
There were 107,599 divorces between opposite-sex couples, the highest number in five years. This equates to 8.9 divorces for every 1,000 married people, a rate that was just 7.5 in 2018. There were also 822 divorces recorded between same-sex couples. This represented a huge rise of nearly 50% compared to 2018.
The 2019 increase is certainly surprising, as divorce numbers have generally been on a downward trend for a number of years. According to the ONS report, this is partly because fewer people are getting married in the first place. It states:
"Changes in attitudes to cohabitation as an alternative to marriage or prior to marriage, particularly at younger ages, are likely to have been a factor affecting the general decrease in divorce rates since 2003."
What caused the 2019 rise in divorces?
These startling new figures beg the question – what happened in 2019 to cause so many marriages to fall apart?
According to the ONS, the explanation could actually be very simple. It could all be down to an administrative issue.
The ONS has said that at least part of the increase could be attributed to a casework backlog in 2018. This would make divorce cases lower in 2018 and higher in 2019, with many divorces from 2018 only being recorded in the following year’s figures.
The report stated:
"The size of the increase can be partly attributed to a backlog of divorce petitions from 2017 that were processed by the Ministry of Justice in early 2018, some of which will have translated into decree absolutes (completed divorces) in 2019.”
Another divorce spike on the horizon
Due to the intense pressures of 2020 during the start of the coronavirus pandemic, another sharp increase in divorce cases is almost certainly on the way. Numerous lockdowns, restrictions and hardship are bound to have exacerbated existing marriage problems.
The charity Citizen’s Advice saw a significant increase in searches for divorce guidance on its website as early as April 2020. And in September, this rise in searches was 25% higher than the same time in 2019.
But if you’re facing marriage problems, you don’t have to go through it alone.
Get in touch with Wirral divorce solicitor Tracey Miller Family Law and we can help you arrange mediation and counselling, as well as reliable, practical divorce advice if you need it. Call us on 0151 515 3036 or contact us online – we’re here to help.
Why ‘Divorce Monday’ is the busiest day of the year for family lawyers
It is not uncommon for couples to wait until January to unleash conflict and confrontation
With the decorations packed away for another year, the reality of being back to work upon us, and a less than healthy bank account to attend to, it's not difficult to understand why many suffer from the post-Christmas, January blues.
But did you know that the first working Monday of January sees huge numbers of people decide to call it a day on their marriages, so much so that the day has been renamed as 'Divorce Monday'?
Divorce inquiries soar in early January
After battling through the Christmas period and waiting until after the New Year, divorce lawyers experience a glut of inquires about divorce and separation on 'Divorce Monday'.
In fact according to a poll of 2,000 married couples, as many as one in five couple consider separating in January after staying together over the festive season.
Despite the surge of inquiries about divorce and separation following the stress and strain Christmas can put on many couples, according to data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) divorce rates are plateauing in the UK.
Divorce rates plateauing in the UK
An ONS report published in 2014 showed that the number of divorces in England and Wales in 2012 was 118,140. This was an increase of 0.5% since 2011.
Whilst the number of divorces might be plateauing in the UK, in January inquiries about divorce made to family lawyers remain high.
As Andrew Norbury, Head of family law at Slater and Gordon told The Independent:
"We've seen the number of inquiries double around this time and then in late January it tails off. Over the last two or three years I've noticed that people even inquire a little bit earlier between Christmas and New Year".
Of course there can be a big difference between the number of people inquiring about divorce and actually going through with the full procedure. As Norbury states it is the people he has seen previously who are more likely to go ahead with the full divorce proceedings.
"It is like it is becoming a New Year's resolution", said Norbury.
Although whilst many of the divorce inquiries solicitors are faced with in early January remain 'inquiries', we cannot ignore official statistics released by eDivorcePapers.com that show January has the highest number of legal break ups.
Christmas can of course be a huge financial burden to many families and worries about money is one of the most significant factors that lead to divorce.
It has also been noted that couples with children are more likely to wait until January to divorce as they struggle on with their spouse over the festive period to ensure their children have a good Christmas.
January is a time when many people are determined to make change and set resolutions, including, it seems, getting divorced.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net