Today’s release by the Ministry of Justice shows new divorce petitions were UP by just 5 per cent during the final quarter of 2020, compared to a year earlier. However, overall divorce starts for 2020 were DOWN 6 per cent compared to 2019.
The more excitable divorce lawyers will claim this as vindication for a coming divorce boom. Yet in perspective, there were 1,500 more petitions in the 4th quarter compared to the previous year, whereas there were 7,300 fewer in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Altogether that means 6,500 fewer divorces in 2020.
What this looks like to me is that some couples who had struggled bravely through the first lockdown found the second one all too much. Yet the vast majority survived. Indeed, data from the most recent UK Household Longitudinal Coronavirus survey from the ONS, showed that for a significant number of married couples, spending more time with their husband or wife has been beneficial.
The data covering June to September found the number of couples who might be ‘seriously considering’ divorce was down by more than half normal pre-Covid levels. And at least twice as many marriages reported that they had actually improved compared to those that deteriorated.”
Everybody recognizes that the last year has put tremendous pressure on relationships. The evidence is clear that those who were formally committed to one another have tended to cope better than those who weren’t.
National divorce rates are at their lowest in 50 years. The tide is not turning. There is no divorce boom.
Harry Benson, Research Director, Marriage Foundation, 25 March 2021