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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.

If you’re in business with your partner, it’s essential to make sure that your money and your share of the company is protected just in case you split up. You also need to take steps to protect the health of the business and to make the right arrangements for its future.

Worst case scenarios

Some couples have a pre-nuptial agreement before they get married, and most also have documentation for house and property ownership. This helps professionals like Liverpool solicitor Tracey Miller to negotiate settlements and work out who is entitled to what during a divorce.

However, not all couples who own a business together have documentation outlining clearly outlined shares in the company and what should happen if the couple split up. Without such documentation, there are quite a few unpleasant things that could happen:

  • 1.A business decision may be required during divorce proceedings – but if you can’t agree, the company could be wound up
  • 2.Business assets could be divided 50/50. If you put a lot more time and money into the business than your partner, you could stand to lose a significant amount
  • 3.Your partner could hide assets ahead of divorce proceedings. Divorce lawyers dealing with business assets see this all too often, where one partner delays preparing accounts of gifts away assets to a friend with the intention of buying them back later.

Tips for protecting yourself and the business

It may not be the most romantic proposition in the world, but if you’re happily married and own a business with your spouse – you absolutely need to draw up documentation covering the terms of the working relationship. Get a contractual agreement in place outlining what happens if the partnership ends. You should also:

  • Transfer all intellectual property rights to the company
  • Agree restrictive clauses preventing spouses from stealing clients or sharing confidential information if the partnership ends
  • Specify who owns what shares and clearly document all loans to the company
  • Get your financial and legal documentation in order

If you can go into negotiations with the intention of securing a fair and amicable solution for everyone, this is far better than letting bitterness win. Choose mediation and arbitration over litigation if you possibly can. Prepare thoroughly for every stage of the process, ensuring all required legal documentation is completed and in order.

If you’re already in a difficult situation with regards to a divorce and your business arrangements, the first thing to do is to get yourself a good solicitor. Tracey Miller Family Law is one of the most experienced law firms Liverpool has to offer, and the team have dealt with many cases involving shared ownership of businesses.