Welsh legal firm sees rise in family law cases despite drop in national divorce rate

THE cost-of-living crisis, fewer marriages and a more settled period following the Covid-19 pandemic have contributed to a decrease in divorces in the UK.

But long-term, latest ONS (Office for National Statistics) figures revealing there were 80,057 divorces – down from 113,505 in 2021 – may not point towards family bliss, according to family law solicitors.

The ONS says the numbers may have been affected by the introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act, which came into effect in April 2022 and introduced new mandatory waiting periods at important stages, and other changes including allowing couples to end a partnership jointly, and the removal of fault-based grounds for divorce.

The cost implications also played a role, according to many in the sector, though Jade Liptrot – a Solicitor at Mackenzie Jones Solicitors, based in St Asaph, Chester, and Menai Bridge – says anyone concerned should explore their options.

“A wide range of factors have impacted on the figures, and of course it looks very positive to see divorce rates in the UK fall,” said Jade.

“That said, staying together for purely economic reasons will no doubt put a strain on the family unit.

“Divorce and relationship breakdowns can be a trying time without having to worry about the financial and legal complications which often go with it, which is why we are focused on providing sensitive care and support.

“We have seen an upturn in people contacting us since the turn of the year, as some have delayed commencing proceedings because of the perceived cost, which is the feedback we are hearing from other practices nationally.”

She added: “Our team have years of experience and are experts in this field, having assisted hundreds of couples across North Wales and beyond for more than two decades.

“This also includes matters such as pre-marital agreements and agreements for couples who live together outside of marriage, so if anyone is worried or unsure about how to proceed, please get in touch.”

The ONS also said the higher number of divorces and dissolutions granted in 2021 may partially reflect delays in the number and timing of divorces granted during 2020 because of disruption in family Court activity during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The lower number of divorces in 2022 may partially reflect the introduction of new minimum waiting periods, meaning that divorces applied for after April 6 that year may take longer to reach final order.

In 2022, there were 78,759 opposite-sex divorces, which is a decrease of 29.6% from 2021 and 23.1% from 2020 divorces.

Same-sex divorces also decreased, to 1,298 in 2022, a decrease of 17.4% compared with 1,571 same-sex divorces in 2021, the first year there was a decrease since the introduction of same-sex marriage in 2014.

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