Divorce rate jumps to eight-year high after Covid 'testing' lockdowns

Divorce rate jumps to eight-year high after Covid 'testing' lockdowns

Divorce rate jumps to an eight-year high with rise of nearly 10% between 2020 and 2021 as ‘lockdown put even the strongest relationships to the test’

  • Divorce rates spiked in England and Wales to the highest number in eight years 
  • 113,505 couples were granted a divorce in 2021 alone, new data reveals
  • This is a 9.6 per cent increase on the last reporting period in 2020
  • An analyst suggests it could be indicative of the pressure of Covid lockdowns 

Divorce rates have spiked throughout England and Wales to the highest number in eight years while the number of households has risen to 24 million, newly released data found.

In total, 113,505 couples were granted a divorce in 2021 alone, according to figures released on Wednesday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is a 9.6 per cent increase on the last reporting period in 2020 when there were 103,592 divorces. It also marks the highest divorce rate since 2013.

Meanwhile there are now 24.78 million households in England and Wales, marking a 6.1 per cent increase (or 1.4 million more houses) on the data for 2011.

The boroughs of Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster experienced drops in the number of households by up to 14.8 per cent. 

Helen Morrissey, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said the divorce data could be indicative of the pressure Covid lockdowns put on couples.

But she also noted many divorce applications were delayed throughout the pandemic, which could have also inflated the data set.

Divorce rates have spiked throughout England and Wales to the highest number in eight years, newly released data found

‘Of course, the pandemic will have played its part with disruption to court activity meaning many applications have been delayed but the fact remains the figures are still up on pre-pandemic,’ she said. 

‘Looking ahead we could see numbers continue to swell as pandemic lockdowns will have put even the strongest relationships to the test.’

Ms Morrissey also cited the implementation of no-fault divorces earlier in 2022 as a further driver to couples splitting, as there is now no longer any need to assign a reason to the split.  

She said: ‘In theory this has the potential to take a lot of acrimony and time out of the process which could save you a lot of money as well as stress.’

Statistics for April 2021 to April 2022 released earlier this year indicated more than 12,000 new divorce applications were filed as ‘no-fault’.

Of the divorces in 2021, 111,934 were among opposite-sex couples while 1,571 were among same-sex couples.

Female couples made up 67.2 per cent of the same-sex divorces. And among the opposite-sex divorces, women were again more likely to file for separation.

Unreasonable behaviour was the most common reason for individuals petitioning for divorce. 

The statistics also revealed 10 per cent of couples married in 1965 had filed for divorce by their 10th wedding anniversary. 

This number spiked to 25 per cent in those married in 1995, but decreased again for couples married in 2011, which 18 per cent filing for divorce by the 10-year mark.

The median duration of all marriages which ended in 2021 was 12.3 years – a slight increase compared to 2020. 

Prior to the pandemic, data suggested the divorce rate was on a steady decline. 

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