Divorce Petitions Rocket in January

Author: Amanda Connor

When it comes to divorce, January is the busiest month of the year for solicitors and relationship counsellors. Tensions, anxieties and resentments boil over during the Christmas period, pushing already stretched relationships to breaking point, prompting internet searches about divorce to peak.

According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics(ONS), there were 90,871 divorces in England and Wales involving opposite sex couples in 2018 – the lowest rate since 1971. Although it was a 10.6% decrease from 2017 (101,669), the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) put it down to administrative reasons.

The reason: the number of divorce petitions processed in 2017 was particularly low, causing an 8% backlog in 2018. It’s believed that the figures will correct themselves when the 2019 statistics are announced, but the reduction in the divorce rate is also being attributed to fewer couples choosing to get married in the first place.

In terms of same sex couples, the divorce rate jumped 27%. In 2018 there were 428 divorces compared to 338 in 2017. The lion’s share of these – 75% – was between female couples.

Unreasonable behaviour accounted for 46.3% of divorces in 2018 - the most common reason cited with 51.9% of wives and 36.8% of husbands petitioning on this ground.

When choosing to divorce, the starting point for the division of your joint assets is 50/50. These assets consist of capital, income and pensions and are usually, but are not limited to, savings, equity in property, interests in a business, stocks and shares, insurance policies and other interests held elsewhere.

A divorce solicitor will also take in to account any debts owned by the marriage, such as loans, credit cards, outstanding mortgages, HP arrangements, store cards etc.. It doesn’t matter which of you has the debt, if it can be attributed back to the marriage, it’ll be classed as a matrimonial debt.

Although the court has a duty to achieve a clean and fair break, in the first instance it will always prioritise the welfare of any children involved. The court will also take in to consideration the length of the marriage, your ages, your earning capacity, whether you have any health issues amongst other factors.

The divorce law solicitors at Russell & Russell always recommend you and your ex-partner attend mediation to try to work out an amicable agreement, but if that’s not possible we can help you find a settlement that’s right for you. Get in touch for an informal chat to discuss your options.

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