The first working Monday of the year has been dubbed ‘Divorce Day’ by lawyers for at least a decade due to the high rise in calls and surge of divorce enquiries made to solicitors on this day.
The beginning of the year can be difficult for families, following the emotional and financial pressures of the festive period which pushes some couples to boiling point. After spending an intense few weeks in each other’s space, many couples can begin to question their relationship and whether their partner makes them happy. Time off from work and a lack of distractions from their home life can cause people in relationships to sit back and evaluate whether they want to be with their other half.
Relate, a UK relationship support charity, said their website user activity increased by 84% over the first three working days of 2019 compared to the same time the previous year, while support service Amicable revealed more than 40,500 people will go online and search ‘divorce’ in the first month of the year.
This festive period saw 26 people lodge for divorce on Christmas Eve, 13 on Christmas Day, 23 on Boxing Day and 77 on New Year’s Day. According to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day, a total of 455 online divorce applications were filed in England and Wales.
The latest divorce figures showed that 101,669 divorces happened last year among opposite-sex couples; a 4.9 per cent fall compared with the previous year and a 45-year low in the UK. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there were 8.4 heterosexual divorces per 1,000 married men and women in 2017, the lowest rate since 1972 and a 5.6 per cent drop on the previous year.
Experts have explained, however, this is not due to more couples deciding to stay together, but due to fewer couples choosing to get married. According to ONS, a change in attitude towards cohabitation as an alternative to marriage is likely to have been a factor affecting the general decrease in divorce rates since 2003, as levels of cohabitation rise while the married population drops.
Divorce rates among same-sex couples have tripled from 2016 to 2017 (from 112 to 338), however, this has been justified due to same-sex marriages only becoming legal in England and Wales as of March 2014. Nearly three-quarters of same-sex divorces (74%) were among female couples in 2017.
The most common reason for opposite-sex couples to divorce in 2017 was unreasonable behaviour. 52% of wives and 37% of husbands who filed for divorce, petitioned on these particular grounds. It was also the most common choice amongst same-sex couples, accounting for 83% of divorces among women and 73% among men. These percentages are lower than the previous year for same-sex couples where 96% of divorces among men and 93% among women were lodged on these grounds.
Statistics have shown that divorce is much more likely to happen among men at the age of 45-49 (an average age of 46.4), and women at the age of 40-44 (mean age of 43.9 years). The ONS figures highlight that divorce among older people is higher now than in 1993, with a continuing year-on-year rise in the average age of divorce since 1985. Relate relationship counsellor, Gurpreet Singh, explained why this might be the case:
“You reach that stage of life when you have the money, the children have left home and you don’t know if it is the person you want to spend your days with. The relationship is now just the two of you and this is why people end up in arguments.”
However, not all couples are considering divorce at this time of the year. New research conducted by Censuswide revealed that 20% of those in a relationship are staying in it even though they are unhappy. According to the study of 2,298 UK adults, people’s top reasons for staying together were:
Despite the biggest percentage of couples staying together ‘for the sake of the children’, a recent poll from UK organisation Resolution found that 82% of children between the ages of 14 and 22 who endured family breakups would have preferred their parents to separate if they were unhappy. When asked what advice they would give to divorcing parents, one of the children responded:
“Don’t stay together for a child’s sake, better to divorce than stay together for another few years and divorce on bad terms.”
If your relationship has reached the point where divorce is the only option, get in contact with Lindsay Jones for specialist legal advice and representation via the online enquiry form.