According to statistics released by the Ministry of Justice, divorce petitions have fallen by 13% from April to June this year in comparison to 2018. There were 28,144 divorce petitions submitted in England and Wales for the three month period during 2019 but 32,230 petitions last year.
Why has there been a fall in divorce petitions?
There are various reasons that have been suggested for the drop which includes Brexit and legal aid cuts but in reality there is no clear, definitive cause why divorce petitions have fallen.
The figures released by the Ministry of Justice show that 40% of the divorce petitions during the three month period were lodged online. However, despite this, the overall divorce process took longer than previously (this applies to all divorce petitions, not just those lodged online). The petition to decree absolute, on average, took 58 weeks for this three month period of time, which is an increase of three weeks on the previous quarter average last year.
The changes in relation to legal aid came into effect in 2012 and many believe that this has resulted in more people representing themselves in divorce proceedings. The knock on effect of this is that incorrect paperwork is being submitted to the Court which is then causing a delay to the proceedings. This means that it is taking the Court longer to process divorce petitions.
Uncertainties in relation to the UK leaving the EU may also account for the drop in divorce petitions. This is due to some divorcing parties not choosing to commence with proceedings due to their partner’s employment circumstances or could possibly be linked to issues selling the family home.