Divorce rates in the UK could surge by more than 50% in 2022, according to a specialist and twice-published author on the subject.
If this did happen, says James Brien of easyonlinedivorce.co.uk, divorce rates would challenge the peak in 1993 when the number of people ending their marriage was 165,000.
The UK’s Divorce Day, the first Monday in January, has come and gone, and the figures made for shocking reading, with enquiries growing by over 67% compared to the same two weeks last year.
What’s more, those numbers could get even higher, says James, he explained, ‘New Divorce Law comes into effect on 6th April, which could see divorce rates soar, as no-fault divorce legislation will replace the current fault base system.
‘‘Under the current system a divorce application must be supported by one of five facts. These are adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years’ separation and five years’ separation. Couple’s divorcing under the new law will no longer need to rely on one of the 5 facts,” adds James.
James adds that divorce applications could surge because, “Each year, two years’ separation is used in approximately 26% of all divorce cases. The new legislation means that couples won’t need to wait for two years. On average there are around 100,000 divorces in England and Wales – 2022 could see an additional 26,000 divorces because couples don’t need to wait for two years.
“Every year approximately 15% of divorces rely on five years’ of separation. Divorces could surge by 30,000 cases in 2022 because couples who have been separated for three and four years don’t need to wait until year 5.
“Under the new law, divorce applications cannot be contested. People the length and breadth of the country remain trapped in a marriage because their spouse refuses to divorce them. Every week we speak to people who want to divorce but who give up at the first hurdle because their partner refuses to accept divorce. This is often used as a control mechanism, even though the couple has lived apart for 10, 15, even 20+ years. The new divorce law is a much needed and welcome change that will give thousands more people the confidence to divorce because the law changes support their right to divorce and live a life on their terms.”
Under the new regime, a 20 week “cooling off period” will be established, meaning that a divorce will take at least six months to complete. This will give couples time to ensure that they are making the right decision, and plenty of time to make sure financial issues can be resolved before the divorce is finalised. Under the current system, if both parties are in agreement, it is possible to divorce in three to four months.
As more people become aware that the new divorce law will slow down the speed of divorce, more are likely to apply for divorce under the old system. Anyone wishing to take advantage of a fast divorce will have until 11:59pm on the 5th April 2022 to file for divorce.
HMCTS (Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service) are currently looking at their resources and trying to make sure that they have sufficient resources in place to deal with the potential peak.