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‘Cost-of-living issue’ to blame for divorce rates falling to lowest level in decades

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According to the most recent figures, the number of divorces granted in England and Wales has dropped to its lowest point in fifty years.

The cost-of-living problem has been suggested by legal professionals as a potential explanation for couples’ delay, given the financial difficulties associated with a formal divorce.

The Office for National Statistics said that in 2022, there were 80,057 divorces issued in the two countries, marking the lowest number of divorces since 1971.

The number of divorces granted in 2022 is less than a quarter (29.5%) of the total in 2021 (113,505).

In 2022, there were 78,759 opposite-sex divorces, which is the lowest amount since 74,437 divorces in 1971.

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act, which changed the legal standards and divorce procedure, went into force in April 2022.

The modifications were meant to lessen the likelihood of dispute and assist divorcing spouses in avoiding the “blame game.” They also removed the option for them to terminate their marriage amicably and eliminated the capacity to level accusations against one another.

The ONS stated that the lower number of divorces seen in 2022 “may partially reflect the introduction of new minimum waiting periods, meaning that divorces applied for after 6 April 2022 may take longer to reach final order.” The Act also included additional required waiting periods.

Experts in law said that the decline in divorces was unexpected.

Partner Sarah Jane Boon of Charles Russell Speechlys stated:  “It was widely thought amongst family law professionals that we’d see a significant jump in divorce enquiries and applications.”

She  added that “financial challenges related to the start of the cost-of-living crisis is also a likely contributor to the fall in divorce rates, as many couples may have considered the economic benefits of staying together.”

The advent of legislation this year that permits couples to submit a joint application for the first time is what makes it noteworthy.

Kerry Gadsdon, ONS

Boodle Hatfield partner Katie O’Callaghan stated: “This is an unprecedented decrease potentially reflecting the general sense of economic uncertainty we are currently experiencing.

“The strain that the cost of living crisis and rising inflation has had on families cannot be underestimated.

“Many are cautious to make significant decisions, particularly those that are likely to adversely impact their financial security even more in times of economic turmoil and uncertainty.”

In 2022, same-sex couples divorced after an average of 7.5 and 6.3 years of marriage, respectively, compared to 12.9 years for opposite-sex couples.

In 2022, there were 6.7 divorces for males and 6.6 for women for every 1,000 married individuals.

These figures were less than those from 2021, when the rates were 9.4 for women and 9.5 for males per 1,000 married people.

This is an extraordinary decline that could be a reflection of the overall economic uncertainties we are presently facing.

The quantity of dissolutions of civil partnerships reached a record low not seen since 2010.

There were 525 dissolutions of civil partnerships in 2022, involving both same- and opposite-sex couples. This is a 22.8% drop from the 680 dissolutions that occurred in 2021.

The new Act resulted in 7,394 divorces and 54 dissolutions, or 9.2% and 10.3% of all divorces and dissolutions, respectively.

According to the ONS, 61.1% of these new-law dissolutions and more than a quarter (28.8%) of these new-law divorces were approved on joint applications.

Kerry Gadsdon from the ONS, stated: “This year is most notable for seeing the introduction of legislative change, allowing couples to make a joint application for the first time, an approach taken in well over half of dissolutions and over a quarter of divorces made since the new Act.”

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Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury is the Editor of The Daily Dazzling Dawn. Previously, he has been serving in important positions in all the famous national dailies of the Bangladesh since the nineties. He has played a commendable role in journalism by participating in various events at the national and international levels. United Nations Conference, World Climate Conference, SAARC Summit are notable among them.

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