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Decrease in UK divorces: impact of cost-of-living crisis and legislative changes

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Decrease in UK divorces: impact of cost-of-living crisis and legislative changes

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Recent data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals a significant decrease in divorces in the UK, with the number of divorces falling from 113,505 in 2021 to 80,057 in 2022

While this decrease may appear positive, family law solicitors caution that it might not necessarily indicate increased family harmony. Several factors, including economic pressures and legislative changes, have influenced these figures.

Key Factors Influencing Divorce Rates

  1. Cost-of-Living Crisis:

    • The ongoing cost-of-living crisis has put financial strain on many families, making the economic implications of divorce a significant deterrent. Jade Liptrot, a solicitor at Mackenzie Jones Solicitors, highlights that while the drop in divorce rates seems positive, economic constraints may compel couples to stay together, potentially straining family dynamics.
    • Liptrot notes an increase in inquiries about divorce since the beginning of the year, suggesting that financial concerns had previously delayed proceedings for many couples.
  2. Legislative Changes:

    • The introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act in April 2022 has played a crucial role in the decline in divorce rates. This act introduced new mandatory waiting periods at critical stages of the divorce process, allowing couples to end their partnership jointly and removing fault-based grounds for divorce. These changes have contributed to longer processing times for divorces initiated after April 6, 2022.
    • The higher number of divorces in 2021 can be partly attributed to the backlog caused by disruptions in family court activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to a temporary spike in divorces once normal operations resumed.
  3. Pandemic Aftermath:

    • The COVID-19 pandemic created significant disruptions in family court activities, causing delays in divorce proceedings. The subsequent normalisation of court activities in 2021 led to a surge in divorces finalised that year, impacting the comparison with 2022 figures.

Statistics on Opposite-Sex and Same-Sex Divorces

  • Opposite-Sex Divorces:

    • In 2022, there were 78,759 opposite-sex divorces, a 29.6% decrease from 2021 and a 23.1% decrease from 2020.
  • Same-Sex Divorces:

    • Same-sex divorces also saw a decline, with 1,298 divorces in 2022, down 17.4% from 1,571 in 2021. This marks the first year of decrease since the introduction of same-sex marriage in 2014.

Insights from Legal Experts

Jade Liptrot emphasises the importance of seeking legal advice and exploring options for those considering divorce. She underscores the role of legal professionals in providing sensitive care and support during such challenging times, mitigating the financial and legal complexities involved. Liptrot’s firm has extensive experience assisting couples in North Wales and beyond, offering services that include pre-marital agreements and arrangements for cohabiting couples.

Conclusion

While the decrease in divorce rates may initially suggest an improvement in family stability, the underlying factors of economic pressure and legislative changes paint a more complex picture. Legal experts urge those facing relationship breakdowns to seek professional advice to navigate the financial and legal challenges effectively.

For further assistance, individuals are encouraged to contact experienced family law solicitors to ensure informed decisions and appropriate support during these critical times.

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