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Divorces in England and Wales have recorded the sharpest rise in almost 50 years, with the number of same-sex couples who split up almost doubling. The number of marriages dissolving grew by 18.4 per cent last year and experts predicted that more couples would split as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns. The rise, the biggest since 1972, was credited to a backlog of cases from 2018 as well as uncertainty over forthcoming legislation. Some 107,600 couples divorced in 2019 in England and Wales. For opposite-sex couples the number rose by almost 9 per cent while the number of same-sex divorces was up by 92 per cent to 822 from 428, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. Of the same-sex divorces, 72 per cent involved female couples.

Despite the increase last year, the overall divorce figures still showed a long-term decline since the high point of 2003, since when opposite-sex divorces have fallen by 30%. The ONS said last year’s increase was in part attributed to divorce centres processing a backlog of casework that had built up in the previous year.  Joanne Edwards, a former chairwoman of Resolution, a group of specialist lawyers, said legislation to implement “no fault” divorce had been delayed first by Theresa May’s snap general election and then by Boris Johnson’s prorogation of parliament last year. “People were hoping for change in 2018 and delayed their divorces,” she said, adding that they then “gave up on that hope in 2019” and went ahead when the reforms were postponed.  Unreasonable behaviour was the most common reason cited for divorce generally.

Source: The Times