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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.

As an experienced divorce solicitor in Liverpool and the surrounding areas, Tracey Miller Family Law has seen it all. And we believe that separation can absolutely be amicable. However, it often requires hard work, compromise and the ability to swallow your pride (and bite your tongue!).

Here are some tips that could help you navigate the potentially fraught minefield of divorce, and come out the other side unscathed.

Get professional counselling – before the relationship breaks down completely

If you and your partner can recognise that there’s a problem early enough, you can seek professional help. You may not be able to save the relationship, but you will have a better chance to make a mutual agreement that divorce is the best option for everyone.

This is crucial to having an amicable divorce, as you’re both starting off on the same page. According to clinical psychologist Dr Viola Drancol, in a recent article in Vogue:

“Often divorces are accompanied by emotional injuries and severe disappointments felt by one or both partners,”

“From a mental health perspective, this is the time to see a professional and to process the disappointment, mourn the losses, and eventually reach a state of acceptance and even forgiveness. Those are factors that can make a divorce more amicable.”

Mutual agreement can also speed up the divorce process considerably. If you can have honest conversations on the big decisions that need making, you can zoom through divorce – which is easier on everyone.

Get advice you can trust

There’s a huge amount of information, advice and guidance available on the internet about divorce. In fact, there’s too much. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, and reading about what you should and shouldn’t be doing can really stress you out.

Instead, get your advice from just a handful of sources you can trust. Your divorce solicitor is the first place to direct your questions, but resources such as Resolution and even Citizens Advice can also be helpful.

Do your best to be open-minded and compassionate

This one is so much easier said than done. But if you can approach divorce with this mindset, you have a better chance of a civil relationship at the end of it all. Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, breathe and pause before taking any action, and remember that you once loved and respected (or still do) this person.

Build a support network

Divorce can be a lonely process, but you don’t have to do it alone. Surround yourself with caring, supportive friends and family. These are the people you pour out your grievances to (rather than starting a bitter argument with your ex) and seek comfort. Crucially, they’re the people who stop you sending that inflammatory email, and who give you the courage to take the next steps.

Liverpool divorce lawyer Tracey Miller Family Law is a member of Resolution, an organisation committed to a non-confrontational, practical approach to divorce. Get in touch with us if you need help with divorce, and we’ll guide you through the process as smoothly as possible.