According to the Office of National Statistics the number of opposite sex divorces in England and Wales in 2019 was 107,599 – the highest since 2014 and a 18.4% increase on the previous year.
In addition to this, there were also 822 same sex divorces, reflecting the new same sex marriage law bought in to England and Wales in March 2014.
In this blog we look at why the number of divorces has increased and whether now is a good time to start the process or wait until he new no fault divorce law is enacted in 2021.
Can I Divorce Now?
Yes, you can process your divorce now using the existing divorce laws. At the time of writing in November 2020, we still have approximately one year until the No Fault Divorce Law is due to be enacted. In our blog The Ultimate Guide to the No Fault Divorce Law, we look at what options you have to divorce now and whether you should indeed wait for the new divorce law to come into effect.
Until this new divorce law is enacted, you will still have to use one of five grounds to prove the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Two-year separation with consent
- Five-year separation
In 2019, Unreasonable Behaviour was cited by 49% of wives and 35% of husbands in their divorce papers. This can cause additional tension at a difficult time, but in reality the grounds make little difference on the parenting or financial arrangements you agree.
What impact will Covid have on Divorce in 2020?
2020 has been a nightmare year for so many people, for so many different reasons. One of the difficulties has been for couples who were intending to separate not being able to and being forced to spend time together in their property – leading to further arguments and difficult atmospheres.
It has also caused issues for families not being able to see people in their support groups and some separated families have had difficulties agreeing new child arrangements during the outbreak. It is widely reported that incidents of domestic abuse have increased in 2020 during the lockdown.
When a relationship is not retrievable, spending time with your partner can exasperate the tensions and this may be one of the reasons there is usually a peak in divorce enquiries each year in January, when couples have spent time together over Christmas and in September, after the summer holidays. It is highly likely therefore that the current lockdown, aligned with making the petition of a divorce easier, will lead to more divorces in 2021 and 2022.
Mediate UK has seen a large increase in the number of enquiries for separating and divorcing couples. In our blog, the 7-steps to achieve a perfect divorce we look at the stages to take to try to resolve the practical and parenting matters and process your divorce as amicably as possible.
Remember, irrespective of whether you want the divorce or not, whether you feel you are to blame or not and whether you do or don’t have children, the worst thing you can do is to become embroiled in a lengthy and costly legal battle with your ex-partner. The courts do not look to reward or punish for behaviour during the marriage and by looking back and not forward, it will add to the emotion and stress of the whole situation.
Should I Divorce Now?
If you are sure that the marriage is not recoverable, then there are advantages to starting the divorce process now. You can process the divorce yourself online using the Government portal here. Most solicitors now have access to the online portal and this is making the process faster than the 18 months or so it was taking back in 2018/19.
If, as hoped, the new Covid vaccine is circulated next year and lockdowns become a thing of the past, then it is likely at that time the number of people getting a divorce willincrease. There is likely to be a rush of cases from those waiting for the new no fault divorce law to come into effect in Autumn 2021.
From a financial point of view, the only way to secure your financial future is to obtain a financial consent order. You can only submit this to the court once your decree nisi is pronounced, and until your decree is made absolute your finances could be counted as an asset of the marriage – irrespective of whose name they are in and if you have started living separately. Read our Ultimate Guide to a Financial Order for more information on how your finances work on divorce.
However, if you have not been living apart for five years, or two years with both your consent, then you will have to use the grounds of unreasonable behaviour or adultery if your partner has committed adultery and you have found out in the past 6 months.
For many this a big stumbling block and they are choosing to wait for the new law, where they can just state they wish to have a divorce.
Mediate UK help couples to divorce or separate as amicably, cost-effectively and fairly as possible. We help you focus on your future, not the past. We help you focus on your children and help you both move on with your lives. What’s stopping you from finding your future today?
For more information on Divorce Mediation or to see why Mediate UK are rated the top amicable divorce and family mediation service in England & Wales, drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or we can have a chat on 0330 999 0959.