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.
Resolution - First for Family Law
At Tracey Miller Family Law, we are all members of Resolution.
Resolution, which was previously known as The Solicitors Family Law Association, is an organisation with a membership of over 5000 lawyers who believe that all matters should be dealt with in a constructive non-confrontational way. All Resolution members follow a Code of Practice which promotes a sensitive, cost effective and constructive approach to family law which is most likely to result in an agreement. The principles of the Code of Practice are widely recognised and have been adopted by the Law Society as good practice for all family law lawyers.
Resolution also campaigns for improvements to family law and was very instrumental in the passing of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 and is more recently campaigning for changes in the law relating to people who live together, i.e. cohabitees.
Tracey has been a member of Resolution for over 17 years and currently sits as Chairperson for the Merseyside region. Tracey says – “I am very proud to be a member of Resolution and I avidly support the Code of Practice and dealing with family law matters in a non-adversarial way, which is clearly for the benefit of the parties and more importantly, the children. I have been Chairperson for the Merseyside region for 10 years. We meet up on a monthly basis and run training courses for our members so that we are always completely up to date and first to know of any changes in family law”.
Sally Stanway is also chair of the Merseyside branch of Young Resolution so TMFL currently have both chairs for the Merseyside region.
If you require any further information with regards to Resolution please do not hesitate to contact us.