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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.

According to the Daily Mail’s article on the case, Mari Vindis was left just £36,000 by former husband Nigel Vindis, who died of an illness in April 2013. Of his £12 million fortune, earned through his nationwide car dealership chain, Mari believes she is entitled to half. She has now gone to court to argue the case, which has also led to a rush of claims from other relatives.

Looking into the case, Liverpool divorce solicitors Tracey Miller has uncovered a surprising request made by Mrs Vindis. She is reportedly asking the High Court to effectively re-write her former husband’s will, to ensure that adequate provision is made for her. She believes that had Mr Vindis lived to finalise the divorce, he would have agreed to give her £6 million of the couple’s fortune as a settlement, rather than the £36,000 he left in his will.

If granted, this kind of ruling would be highly irregular for the High Court, if not a first in the modern history of UK partnership law.

Explaining why Mrs Vindis is asking for this, her barrister David Rees said:

“Mari brings her claim as Nigel's widow. They met as teenagers when Mari was 16 and Nigel 18.

“This is a case where the whole of the value of Nigel's estate has been built up during the course of the marriage. The marriage was a partnership.

“The court is required to take into account the provision which Mari might reasonably have expected to receive if on the day on which the deceased died the marriage, instead of being terminated by death, had been terminated by a divorce.

“The family took expensive foreign holidays, travelling first class and staying in five star hotels. Mari's reasonable needs include provision to enable her to travel and continue to enjoy such holidays.”

There is naturally opposition from the couple’s two adult children, 26-year-old Gabriella and 28-year-old Alexander, to whom Mr Vindis left the bulk of his large fortune in his will. If Mrs Vindis is successful in her claim, their inheritance will be greatly reduced.

Further complications in this case come from the late Mr Vindis’ sisters Sonjia and Theresa, both of whom are believed to be mounting what has been described as a “hostile” claim for a share of the businessman’s fortune.

Unfortunately, some divorce cases can end up as complicated as this – mostly revolving around money. If you’re experiencing this kind of situation, you need an expert in your corner to help guide you through the process unscathed and with what you’re entitled to. Get in touch with the team at Tracey Miller, specialists in all aspects of Liverpool and Wirral family law.