Divorce rate plunge is no cause for celebration

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Divorce

The number of divorces in England and Wales has fallen significantly in the last decade.

There were 111,169 divorces in 2014, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), a 27 per cent decrease from the most recent peak in 2003. It is also a 3.1 per cent drop
from the previous year, when there were 114,720 divorces.

The number of men who ended their marriages in 2014 fell by the same amount as women. There were 9.3 divorced men per 1,000 married ones, a 5.1 per cent drop from 2013. Among women, the numbers were identical, with 9.3 divorcing per 1,000 married women. This represented the same 5.1 per cent fall from the previous year. Both of these figures represent significant drops from their peaks a decade earlier, when the divorce rate among men was 30.6 per cent higher and among women 29.5 per cent higher.

Stowe Family Law Senior Partner Marilyn Stowe said: “Don’t be fooled into thinking couples are happier and fewer are divorcing. Across all our offices year on year we have seen a steady rise in clients consulting us, which has increased substantially since the recession came to an end. So what’s really going on?”

She explained: “I believe in the years during which legal aid was being reduced and all but abolished in 2013, fewer people could afford legal advice. The disproportionate hike in court fees has hit home for many and I think far more people who are finding life tough enough are simply separating and doing nothing about sorting out their finances. Some are litigating on their own about children in court – and we know that the courts are getting clogged up with those cases because the Judges never stop complaining about it. So the weaker party, probably the wife with children, is now more likely to turn to the state for financial help. What we are seeing, in fact, is the people who would have had legal aid being left without a remedy whilst those that can afford it, get their lives sorted out.”

Stowe Family Law is the UK’s largest specialist family law firm, with offices in North and West Yorkshire, London, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Hertfordshire and Hampshire.

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