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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.

You’re likely to be feeling nervous, stressed and bewildered before your first consultation, and absolutely bursting with questions. There’ll be plenty of time to cover everything, but for now – these are the key questions you might want to focus on:

1. Are you a family law specialist?

Remember – you don’t have to go with the first solicitor you contact. It pays to find out a little more about the solicitor before signing up, to find the right one for you.

Start with whether or not they specialise in family law. Many solicitors work on divorce cases, but an experienced specialist like Tracey Miller – who has been a Liverpool family law solicitor for 30+ years - will better understand what your family is going through. They’ll also have the expertise to anticipate and address all legal issues that may crop up.

2. Are you a member of Resolution?

This is another important thing to find out, as it can affect the way your divorce is handled. Resolution is a national organisation of family lawyers committed to a non-confrontational approach to divorce. If your solicitor is a member, like Tracey Miller Family Law, you can hopefully avoid the stress of a prolonged court case. Instead, you can focus on constructive, cooperative ways to move forward with as little animosity as possible.

3. How long will my divorce take and what are the next steps?

One of the most important things to get out of your first consultation is an understanding of the divorce process. Your solicitor will take some details of your situation and explain roughly how long it will take until your divorce is finalised. They’ll also run you through the process step-by-step, so you’ll know what to expect when.

4. What documentation will I need?

Having your documents in order can speed up the divorce process, so ask your solicitor for a list of everything you’ll need – from marriage certificates to bank statements.

5. What do I do about my finances?

There are certain things you’ll need to do right now, before your divorce case goes ahead. For example, making arrangements with your ex to close joint accounts, sorting out who pays the bills and what you plan to do about shared property. Your divorce solicitor can give you some helpful initial advice so you can make the right decisions at this stage.

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Ultimately, your divorce solicitor is there to provide practical advice and useful information you can trust. They will aim to calm your nerves and help you make the right decisions for you and your family.

If you’d like to arrange a free, no obligation consultation with a family law solicitor here at Tracey Miller Family Law, get in touch on 0151 515 3036 or email info@traceymillerfamilylaw.com.

We’re working remotely during the COVID-19 crisis, so we’re here 7 days a week if you need us.