Ever Changing Divorce Statistics
The Office for National Statistics has published data showing that there has been in increase of 18.4% in opposite-sex divorces in England and Wales from 2018 to 2019. The figures show that in 2018 there were 90,871 divorces, with that figure increasing to 107,599 in 2019. This can be contrasted to the most recent statistics for the number of marriages in England and Wales, which stood at 242,842 in 2017.
The current number of divorces per year is still shy of the record set in 2003 when 153,065 divorces were issued.
In describing the increase of more than 18% from 2018 to 2019, the ONS states that this is partly due to a backlog of casework with the courts that has resulted in delays. This is nothing new, as delays in the court system have become commonplace in recent years, especially in 2020 with the current Covid-19 pandemic stretching the court’s resources often to breaking point.
The statistics also provided an analysis of same-sex divorces, where of the 822 same-sex divorces, 72% were between female couples.
And as to the length of marriages, the results show that the median duration of marriages at the time of divorces for opposite-sex couples is 12.3 years.
These latest figures all come amidst the Covid-19 pandemic in which family lawyers across the country have predicted a “post-lockdown boom” of divorces on the basis that lockdowns over this last year have continued to put strains on relationships. In April 2020 we wrote that domestic violence charities in England and Wales had seen a surge in requests for help, while similarly in China, the first country to enter lockdown at the start of this year, reports began to emerge of large increases in divorce applications.
We do not yet know what the statistics for 2020 will show us, and given the huge delays family lawyers and their clients are facing with the Family Court due to Covid-19 we would not be surprised if the 2020 statistics show a decrease in divorces for 2020. We would urge people to take these statistics with a pinch of salt though, because the true figures and realities of married life post-lockdown will not start to emerge until, similarly, we emerge from the current crisis we face.