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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.

Children's Matters

At Tracey Miller Family Law, our expert child custody* solicitors strive to bring child custody disputes to a swift and amicable decision, by using a friendly yet professional approach.

However, if such disputes cannot be resolved through negotiation, our child custody law experts will be right by your side to advise you on the various applications that can be made through the family law court.

Tracey has been through a divorce herself and has three children. She says: "Even though it is difficult to see through your own distress and pain, try always to put the needs of your children first, as they are also affected by the break-up of the family."

If you need to speak with an experienced child custody solicitor, then why not call us today on 0151 515 3036 or 07795 060 211 for a free no-obligation chat, to discuss your options? Alternatively, you can fill out our ‘Call Back’ form and we’ll call you back at a time that’s more convenient for you.

What you should know about child custody

The term “custody” no longer exists – it was replaced in the Children Act 1989 with the term “Parental Responsibility”. Parental Responsibility means all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities, and authority which, by law, a parent of a child has, in relation to the child and their property.

A child’s mother automatically has Parental Responsibility for a child. The child’s father will have Parental Responsibility in certain circumstances depending upon the date of birth of the child. Of course, at Tracey Miller Family Law our specialists can advise you upon this.

If you are being prevented from exercising your Parental Responsibility or are seeking to obtain Parental Responsibility then please contact us to discuss your options.

What does the law say?

The Orders that the Family Court can make regarding children have had many different names in the past, including “custody”, “residence” and “contact”. The Court however will now make a “Child Arrangement Order” (CAO).

The types of Order that the Court can make are:

1. With whom the child lives (previously called residence).

2. With whom a child spends time (previously called contact).

3. A prohibited steps order. This prevents a person from taking a specific step in relation to a child, for example preventing them from being permanently removed from the country.

4. Specific issue order. This allows the Court to decide on an issue which relates to the child or children upon which the separating couple cannot reach an agreement, for example choice of school.

Call today for a free and confidential no-obligation chat about your circumstances regarding child custody or any other children’s matters on 0151 515 3036. Alternatively, you can request a call back with us via our online contact form.

For more information, or to speak to one of our expert family law solicitors today, please read our divorce and children FAQ's or contact us.