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.
Businessman and Conservative Party donor Sir Andrew Cook was contesting a High Court trial with his ex-spouse, interior designer Baroness Angelika Hirsch-Stronstorff. The couple, who had been married for three years, were unable to reach an agreement over division of assets and the divorce settlement. In total, they have racked up over £1 million in legal bills arguing the case.
Representatives of Baroness Hirsch-Stronstorff, believed to be worth around £4 million, had asked for £2.8 million as part of the divorce settlement. Her former husband, worth at least £25 million, only offered her £2 million.
Neither party was arguing that their combined wealth should be split evenly or shared, but they did disagree on who owned certain property and furnishings. One seemingly trivial yet surprisingly acrimonious sticking point was the ownership of the curtains at a house they shared in London. Sir Andrew, who is keeping the property, argued that the curtains should remain with him. His Austrian ex-wife disagreed, setting out the position that as she was keeping the contents of the house, the curtains belong to her.
The disagreement has now finally been settled, with Mr Justice Holman in the Family Division of the High Court ruling that the curtains should remain in the property. However, if Sir Andrew should sell the curtains with the property in the next five years, the proceeds of the sale should be split between the couple.
Judge describes legal row as “ridiculous”
Commenting while the case was ongoing, Mr Justice Holman told the pair:
“It seems utterly, utterly ridiculous.”
“We are only arguing about somewhere between £1 million and £2 million between people who are worth somewhere between £25 million and £30 million. It is pretty depressing, frankly.”
At the time, he urged the couple to find a resolution and “put this to bed”.
The importance of compromise during divorce
Sadly, arguments over seemingly trivial things and an unwillingness to compromise is all too common in divorce cases.
Many people don’t actually care too much about the items, money or property involved in the dispute, but instead channel their emotions stemming from the divorce – hurt, anger, distress – into digging in their heels over the smallest details. During separation, many people don’t want to feel like they’re ‘losing’ or conceding anything to their ex-partners – so they argue to save face, even if the subject of the disagreement isn’t actually worth the legal costs, animosity or delay in the divorce process.
Here at Wirral divorce solicitors Tracey Miller Family Law, we can offer expert advice and guidance during a divorce, to help you stay level-headed, make smart decisions and crucially, know when and how to compromise for the sake of your future, family and happiness. Get in touch today to find out how we can help.