The court service has disclosed that the number of people filing for divorce has increased from 6,764 in April 2021 to 12,978 in April 2022, which most are attributing to the coming into force of “no-fault divorce” laws
However, it might not be that simple, covid has also without doubt impacted on relationships, whilst not ground-breaking news, there was not an immediate surge in (what were then) petitions. Along with the economic stresses and the questioning of where one was heading in life and alongside whom, was an age-old reason couples stay together- inertia and financial necessity.
Some people realised early on that there was more to life than their relationship and for whatever reason it was not fulfilling their needs. Some pushed those doubts down (they may well resurface and manifest elsewhere as psychologists will no doubt confirm) and ignored them.
Some wanted to act but could not- typically one spouse’s job or the other was in jeopardy and the huge upheaval coupled with financial uncertainty meant that it was a risk too large to take.
Others went ahead anyway. Often when asked if there was any prospect of reconciliation a party would explain why not- frequently it was cumulative behaviour that was just not bearable anymore. There was a lot of soul searching happening over covid in amongst the cabin fever.
This year has seen a relaxation of the rules with the introduction of the “no-fault” divorce law and people are certainly on the path to whatever their normality was or rather, perhaps a new reality but one which they live with. Feeling more settled affords one the privilege of daring to look to the future and plan. It would seem more have done so.
With the introduction of “no-fault” there is no further need for “mudslinging”. We don’t have petitioners filing for divorce – now we have applications and moreover these applications can be joint. There remains the element of coercive control when one party insists on applying alone but that will always be the case.
It has meant that parties can separate amicably before two years without citing unreasonable behaviour or adultery. Indeed, even the two years of amicable fact needed consent. There has been movement. This removal of a blame culture helps the person seeking the divorce to do so in a more matter of fact non emotional matter which surely is a preferable route to proving adultery or, in the case of Mrs Tini Owens who failed to convince a judge, unreasonable behaviour.
Few enter marriage or divorce lightly and as each marriage has its own issues so therefore is the answer to why the number of divorces has increased. Every couple will have their own reason.