New figures from the Ministry of Justice show that divorce applications in the second quarter of this year reached the highest levels in a decade. Applications reached 33,566 between April and June, up 22% on the previous year. The obvious headline is that divorce rates are now skyrocketing following the introduction of ‘no fault’ divorce laws for England & Wales on 6th April.
But hang on!
Quarterly figures do indeed show a rise … after the lowest figures in the final quarter of last year. Here’s the chart to show it:
When you annualise the numbers and show what’s happened in the past year, it’s even clearer that this is a short term blip that almost certainly reflects a backlog of anticipation of these new laws.
If you knew that you had to wait two years for a no-fault divorce and a new law was coming that could let you do it in six months, you’d wait. That’s what couples have done.
So let’s not forget that divorce rates overall are now at levels last seen in the 1970s. Some marriages don’t work out. But the overwhelming majority do.
Divorce rates do occasionally blip up and everyone notices. What must be remembered is the real story, that divorce rates are low and most marriages are successful.
Harry Benson, research director, 29 Sep 2022