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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.

Divorce FAQ's

How much does a divorce cost?

The cost for a straightforward undefended divorce is £650 + VAT, plus court fees of £550. If on the other hand the divorce becomes defended the cost would increase.

We at Tracey Miller Family Law go out of our way to make sure that costs are kept to a minimum, which is why we offer a completely ‘Free of Charge’ initial meeting, where we can give you a fair indication of what the cost is likely to be. Being part of Resolution (formerly the solicitors family law association), we will always strive to keep all our cases as non confrontational as possible, thereby reducing the chances considerably of long drawn out and expensive divorces.

How long does a divorce take?

An average divorce should take no longer than 4-6 months. However it may take longer to complete the divorce if it is defended (please note that your Financial Settlement may take longer). At TMFL we always try to complete a divorce as fast as possible, because of our own experiences we know that dealing with these issues quickly, allows the family to close an extremely painful chapter and enables them to move on to happier times as soon as is possible.

What are the grounds for divorce?

Contrary to popular belief, there is only 1 ground for divorce which is that “the marriage has broken down irretrievably”, to prove this you have to use one of 5 facts as follows:

  1. Adultery
  2. Unreasonable Behaviour
  3. 2 years Separation with Consent
  4. Desertion (2 years or more)
  5. 5 years Separation

Our whole ethos at TMFL is to make everything as easy for our clients as possible, therefore we would discuss the implications of whichever fact was most suitable, in order to complete the divorce with the minimum of stress and as quickly as possible.

For more information about UK divorce law, or to speak to a friendly, sympathetic divorce solicitor, do not hesitate to contact us today.