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.
Unfortunately, the financial side of separation can also be the most contentious. Couples often can't agree about who should get what, and it can lead to messy, strung-out legal proceedings.
Having a better understanding of how financial settlements work can ease the process, potentially avoiding disagreements. With sound legal advice and a willingness to cooperate and compromise on both sides, it’s perfectly possible to reach a fair agreement quickly.
So, let’s take a closer look at financial settlements during divorce, including how courts make their decisions in situations where you can’t agree.
Taking stock of assets
One of the first things your divorce solicitor will discuss with you is your assets. You’ll need to list everything you own, co-own or which was built up over the course of your marriage. This may include:
· The marital home – the value of the home you lived in together, regardless of who legally owns the property
· Other property – for example, holiday or second homes
· Money – held in current, savings and investment accounts, from both individual and joint accounts
· Pension savings – private, workplace and state pensions for both parties
· Personal assets – for example, motor vehicles, jewellery, antiques
· Anticipated assets – this means assets you except to acquire in the future, such as an inheritance or a redundancy package.
Crucially, the assets listed above will only be included in ‘the matrimonial pot’ if they were acquired after the relationship began. There are exceptions to this, but generally speaking - assets you already had before you were married are not divided up during a divorce, unless the parties’ needs require it.
The other important point to remember is that debts should also be listed alongside assets. You have joint responsibility for money owed, so it’s only fair that debts should be taken into account too.
Making a financial agreement between you
The best, quickest and easiest way to sort out financial matters during a divorce is by agreeing a settlement between you. With the help of your divorce solicitors, you and your ex-partner can choose how you’d like assets divided up.
Provided you can agree on everything and the arrangement is fair, you can make the agreement legally binding. This saves the need to go to court or have a third party intervene in the decision.
If you struggle to agree on a few points, mediation can help.
Can’t agree? How the courts divide assets
If you’ve been trying to thrash out an agreement with your ex and aren’t getting anywhere, the courts will decide how assets should be split. The court will make a financial order, stating who will get what and how the arrangement will be carried out.
Courts make their decision based on many factors, including:
· The length of the marriage
· Each of your ability to earn
· The amount of property and money
· Your ages
· Your current standard of living and living expenses
· Each person’s role in the marriage (i.e. primary carer, breadwinner).
Their aim is to make the fairest agreement for all parties, which includes any children you have together.
Financial issues during divorce can be difficult to resolve, but you don’t have to face them alone. Rely on the expert advice of Liverpool divorce solicitor Tracey Miller – call us on 0151 515 3036 to see how we could help.