Divorce enquiries “increased by 93 per cent” during first national lockdown, official figures reveal

Divorce enquires increased by more than 90 per cent during the first national lockdown compared to the previous year, a major study has revealed.

The figures, published by the Legal Services Board (LSB), largely back up research suggesting that the pandemic has strained families and relationships.

According to the figures, divorce applications received by HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) increased by 93 per cent between April and July 2020 compared to the previous year.

Despite dipping in August to below 2019 levels, applications rose again later in the year, increasing by 46 per cent between August and October 2020 and 16 per cent in November 2020.

Commenting on the fluctuations, the regulator said the summer peak may suggest a “reticence to issue proceedings during the first national lockdown” with a “subsequent spike showing that pent-up need”.

The research also shows that referrals to the National Centre for Domestic Violence increased by 13 per cent, from 6,700 in December 2019 to 7,500 in December 2020.

The figures come after multiple studies suggested that coronavirus restrictions have “created a strain” on relationships.

Citizens Advice, for example, found that views of its divorce webpage were up 25 per cent in September 2020 compared to the same period a year ago.

A survey undertaken by lawyers, meanwhile, revealed that the pandemic had significantly affected the relationships of more than half of couples, with one in five (18 per cent) citing financial difficulties or worries, while a further one in four disagreed over home schooling issues.

The figures come ahead of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, which received royal assent last year. Described as a “landmark” moment, the new laws will remove the requirement to prove one of five grounds of divorce, such as adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, or two or five years of separation.

For help and advice on related matters, please get in touch with Alison Green, Head of our Family and Relationship Team at Mackrell.Solicitors on +44 (0) 20 7240 0521 or at alison.green@mackrell.com

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Alison Green
Alison joined Mackrell.Solicitors in 1989 and qualified as a solicitor in 1991, becoming a partner in the firm in 2010. Her expertise covers matrimonial work, including divorce and the associated financial and children issues; pre and post-nuptial agreements; co-habitation disputes; civil partnership agreements and the breakdown of civil partnerships.