RECENT statistics have revealed the number of couples getting divorced in England and Wales increased by almost a fifth in 2019 – rising to the highest level since 2014.
The official figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed there were 107,599 opposite-sex divorces in 2019, an increase of 18.4 per cent from 2018 figures. There was also a big uplift in the number of same-sex divorces, with 822 taking place in 2019 compared to 428 in 2018.
On a percentage basis, the ONS said the 2019 figures showed the largest overall increase since 1972, when the recent introduction of the Divorce Reform Act 1969 made it easier for couples to divorce.
These figures do not take into account couples impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Many predict a further surge in divorce figures for 2020/21 as the effects of lockdown and various pressures felt by couples filter through.
Although there are no official figures to date, a survey by the UK charity Relate found nearly a quarter of people felt lockdown had placed additional pressure on their relationship. A further survey by the charity in July reported 8 per cent of people ended their relationship due to issues arising from the pandemic.
From autumn 2021, when ‘no-fault’ divorce is set to be introduced, couples will only have to state their marriage has broken down irretrievably. It is unclear what impact this will have on the number of divorces.
Some predict the changes will reduce the stigma involved with divorce and therefore lead to an increase.
But many in the field see the move as a positive step; reducing the so-called ‘blame game’ and therefore some of the potential for animosity during the divorce process.
With changes afoot and the stresses of Covid-19 continuing, the need for reputable family law advice remains paramount.
Anthony Jones is head of Family Law at O’Donnell Solicitors and can be contacted on 01456 761320 or 07444 582804 or email email@example.com
O’Donnell Solicitors are offering virtual consultations by phone or video call and are also seeing clients at a safe social distance by appointment in Covid-secure offices.