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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.

judge has said that Mr Bannatyne, who recently appeared on the ITV reality programme ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!’ and whom is believed to be worth around £187 million, provided false evidence to the court during legal proceedings.

The Mail on Sunday has claimed that back in 2012, Bannatyne misrepresented the true value of a severance package drawn up when Graham Armstrong, who formerly ran one of Bannatyne’s health and fitness companies, left his employment. When submitting to the court details of his assets and business affairs in relation to the divorce case, the newspaper is claiming that the entrepreneur said the severance deal was worth £10 million when it was in fact worth £6 million.

By overstating this figure, this would reduce the share of the assets that Mrs Bannatyne was entitled to claim. The Mail on Sunday claimed it had seen evidence of a backdated severance agreement and forged board minutes, which Mr Bannatyne submitted in order to declare the value of his assets.

Gagging order overturned

It has been claimed that the multi-millionaire attempted to stop the Mail on Sunday reporting the allegations, stating that the details of his divorce should be kept private because of the public interest in “maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of the divorce financial remedy proceedings". Judge David Hodge has rejected Mr Bannatyne’s call for privacy on this matter, saying that there was a public interest in exposing a person’s attempts to mislead a court, even the former Dragon had admitted his actions and apologised. The judge said:

"In my judgment, there is a public interest in making it clear that if someone does provide false evidence to a court, with a view to misleading the court for their own financial gain, or for the financial gain of an associate, then it will do them no good to admit that fact without fear of any repercussions.”

A ‘fraught’ divorce battle

The divorce case between Mr Bannatyne and his ex-wife Joanne was described by the judge himself as ‘fraught”, and this wasn’t the first instance of acrimony between the two regarding the split. In fact, the former BBC star once labelled his ex-wife a “gold digger” on his Twitter account. The pair are now officially and legally divorced, but litigation between Mr Bannatyne and his former associate Mr Armstrong is still ongoing.

If you’re preparing for a divorce and you have questions or concerns regarding the declaration or disposal of assets, or perhaps you’re finding your financial affairs too complicated to even start thinking about – it makes sense to get in touch with an expert. The team at Tracey Miller Family Law Solicitors have vast experience in all aspects of divorce and family law, and they can help to make the process much easier.