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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.

Tracey Miller


Tracey is fifty something and is married to her second husband, Anthony. She has three children from her first marriage and two step-children. Tracey went through a painful divorce herself and totally empathises with her clients who are going through the pain and trauma of divorce or relationship breakdown themselves.

Tracey says - "I honestly believe that you cannot tell somebody that you know how they feel if you have not been through it yourself. I have been divorced and therefore I understand the suffering and distress this causes both to the parties and their children. I am always more than happy to share my own personal experience with my clients if it assists them at this difficult time".

Tracey has been a family law solicitor for more than 28 years. Tracey knew from her first family law lecture at University that family was the area of law in which she wanted to specialise. Tracey says - "I am passionate about family law and how it should be carried out. I am Chairperson for Resolution's Merseyside region who positively advocates a non-adversarial way of dealing with family law issues. I love what I do, and would not practice any other area of law. My clients have the benefit of my experience, both personal and legal, and they genuinely know that I care about them and their issues".

Tracey was a Partner in two large Liverpool City Centre law firms before deciding to set up her own niche practice in 2009. Tracey says - "I want to bring family law into the 21st Century. I want people to feel totally at ease at all times and want to make things as convenient as possible for them. I do not want my clients to have to worry about taking time off work or making child care arrangements. The whole ethos of our firm is that we PUT OUR CLIENTS FIRST. We offer an initial free no obligation consultation and insist that we answer all of our client's questions so that they can make a fully informed decision on what they want to do. We also offer a 7 day family law service which means that even when our office is closed you can at least speak to someone over the weekends or out of hours.

Tracey is absolutely thrilled at the growth of the practice and says "I am delighted at the number of clients we have attracted and continue to attract at TMFL. Our client's really make our job worthwhile and can see that we genuinely care about them and that we will always strive to go that extra mile. I believe that it is our approach to how we treat our clients that sets us head and shoulders above other family solicitors in the North West. For us TMFL is not just a 9 to 5 business, it is a personal service that each member of our firm is committed to, in ensuring that during difficult times in our clients lives, whether it be a relationship breakdown or a chidren dispute they can see us or contact us at any time" To me practicing family law is not just a job it is a vocation!"

TMFL has increased its workforce by 30% and has moved into new premises in the heart of the City Centre. Tracey specialises in high network financial settlements and has dealt with cases involving assets worth several millions of pounds. She deals with assets including businesses, property portfolios, significant pensions funds etc.

Tracey also deals with international family law cases, in particular those involving children for example where one parent wishes to relocate with a child to another country. Tracey says “I find these cases of particular interest and I am pleased to say that we have been 100% successful to date in our applications to remove a child to a different country and also to prevent a child being removed”. This is a particular area of law we wish to develop, we are making new contacts and ties all the time with lawyers in other jurisdictions including America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.


"Tracey’s support, guidance and diligence through a difficult time was fantastic." – Michael, Bolton
"I would highly recommend Tracey Miller Family Law Firm. I found the service provided to be highly professional yet personal and sensitive in dealing with the complex emotional and financial difficulties of divorce. I found everyone in the firm, from the receptionist and secretaries to the solicitors to be extremely efficient, approachable and always considerate in handling my divorce. I felt I was always given excellent advice and was supported and professionally guided through some difficult decisions when required. An excellent law firm all round and I would not hesitate to recommend." – Victoria, Liverpool
“Tracey’s skill, diligence and attention helped us to bring to a satisfactory conclusion a long standing matrimonial financial matter. We wish we had come to Tracey Miller Family Law from the start. Thank you for your support and advice we have nothing but praise for the way our case was handled and the expertise of the legal team” – Sue & Mike, Rainhill.
“Commencing divorce proceedings is a most frightening and stressful experience. However once I had met with Tracey and her team I was immediately impressed with her professionalism, sensitivity and empathy. My divorce was handled proficiently and with the greatest of understanding and care. I could not recommend Tracey Miller Family law any more highly!” – Mrs H Winder, Crosby.