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ONS divorce report highlights challenges faced by couples

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Ministers plan divorce law overhaul

While there was a drop in the number of people filing for divorce in 2020, the report from the ONS does highlight the challenges many couples faced during a year of huge uncertainty. We know that the pandemic exposed the fault lines in many relationships. Navigating the challenges of 2020; including job worries, financial insecurity as well as the lack of support structures, meant that some relationships very quickly reached breaking point.

The practical impact of lockdown measures prevented many couples from being able to physically separate. Finding somewhere else to live became very difficult because of the restrictions. Unknowns around the pandemic and the outcomes for families generally, saw couples putting off decisions to end their marriage. It’s only now that we are starting to see those couples come forward, having made the decision to bring their marriage to an end.

One of the key elements in analysing these divorce figures is whether we see a spike in numbers once no-fault divorce laws comes into force later this year. We know that some couples, where there is a mutual decision to separate, are waiting until that point before pursuing divorce proceedings.