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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.

The 54-year-old, a former calendar model for Pirelli, was married to husband Sheikh Walid Juffali for 13 years. The model and the Saudi businessman, 61, have been battling each other in a drawn-out divorce case, which Ms Estrada has described as “bruising and distressing”.

She claims that Mr Juffali divorced her under Islamic Law in 2014without her knowledge, and also married someone else while still married to Ms Estrada. Further claims suggest that the businessman used his diplomatic immunity status to block a legally binding settlement being made to her.

£196 million sought for ‘needs’

Ms Estrada originally sought to receive a settlement of £196 million from her ex-husband, which she claims was required to meet her “needs”. The couple have a daughter together and Ms Estrada currently lives in the marital home near to Windsor Great Park in Berkshire, but one of the more extraordinary claims in the case was that the former supermodel required £1 million a year in order to buy clothes. When questioned further on this, Ms Estrada revealed that she needed:

  • £40,000 a year for fur coats
  • £21,000 a year for shoes
  • £109,000 a year for haute couture dresses

Also included in the list of essentials were a luxury London home (£60 million), a country home in Henley-on-Thames (£4.4 million) and five cars split between the UK and the US (£495,000 in total). Justifying what some would perceive as excessive and extravagant “needs”, Ms Estrada said:

"I was a top international model. I have lived this life. This is what I am accustomed to."

She rejected an initial offer that would have given her £37 million to live on, and has now been awarded a sum that, when added to her own assets, will give her £75 million to live on. Her lawyers had claimed that Mr Juffali, who is terminally ill with cancer and was unable to attend court, was worth £8 billion. He claims this is a “fantasy” figure, and in a written statement said that his net worth is actually around £113.8 million.

Speaking after the settlement was announced by the High Court, BBC News reports that Ms Estrada said:

"Having grown up in a middle-class family and having enjoyed a successful career until my marriage, I am fully aware that the spectacular life Walid and I led was immensely fortunate and rarefied.

"And I fully understand how this can be perceived in the wider world.

"My focus now is to support my daughter and move forward with our lives."

Conflict in divorce cases inevitably involves the issue of money, and can drag on for far too long unless you’ve got an expert in your corner to negotiate the process. The experienced Wirral family law experts at Tracey Miller will fight your corner, aiming to get you exactly what you’re entitled to and bring the process to a satisfactory resolution as quickly as possible.