The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently reported a decrease of 4.5% in the number of divorces granted in England and Wales in 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. The total figure was 103,592, and the majority (98.9%) of those getting divorced were opposite-sex couples.
Record numbers of divorces could be on the horizon
Despite the ONS figures showing a drop in divorces, many family lawyers believe that this is just a temporary dip. Family court backlogs could be obscuring the true picture, which could mean a huge rise in cases during 2021 and 2022.
According to London solicitor Caroline Burstein, speaking to the Telegraph:
“It was only after the first lockdown ended that people started to take the first steps towards divorce.
“So, with divorces typically taking a minimum of six months to finalise - more where the finances have to be resolved - the real impact of lockdown life won’t be seen until the release of next year’s statistics.”
How the pandemic affected family life and divorce in 2020
The coronavirus crisis seems to have affected divorce figures in a number of unexpected ways, and it could take some time for normal patterns to return.
Firstly, families were focusing more on getting through the pandemic than addressing relationship problems. Home schooling and childcare, caring for elderly or vulnerable relatives, and avoiding catching the virus were immediate priorities, rather than seeking legal advice or starting the divorce process.
Many couples would also have been dissuaded from submitting divorce petitions due to reports of severe delays in the family law courts. This is something our Liverpool divorce solicitors experienced first-hand, with understaffing, underfunding and backlogs of cases causing divorce cases to drag out far longer than they normally would.
There’s also the issue of people submitting their own divorce petitions online. Without advice and assistance from a solicitor, the likelihood of making an error is higher – which can also cause delays in getting divorces completed.
In addition, the Tracey Miller Family Law team noticed technical problems within an obviously overloaded system during the pandemic. For example, a lack of technical know-how within the court staff and online petitions disappearing in the portal for a period of time.
For expert help navigating the divorce process, get in touch with Liverpool divorce lawyer Tracey Miller Family Law. We’ll give you jargon-free information on what to expect and what you can do to streamline the process, as well as helping you make smart, informed decisions.
Call us on 0151 515 3036 for a chat, or email email@example.com and we’ll get right back to you.