The Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions the nation has been placed under have put a strain on even the strongest relationships. Sharing work and home space, as well as the pressure of home-schooling and health concerns, have proved to be too much for some and created a ‘perfect storm’ for relationships to break down. Will there be a further surge in divorce rates among couples as we approach the end of the year and couples reassess their future?
Emma Hatley recently appeared on Sky News to discuss some reasons for the firm seeing divorce enquiries rise by 122% from July to October 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.
Emma explained that there are usually two peaks during the year when divorce enquiries spike, September after the school holidays and January after the Christmas holidays. This indicates that prolonged periods of family time can often result in relationship breakdown. She explained that lockdown seems to have flattened the September peak, resulting in a more steady stream of enquiries.
She also discussed the impact Brexit might have on divorce rates, particularly for international European families. As the UK leaves the European Union, and we come out of various international legal arrangements, there is uncertainty about the European regulations that harmonise family law across borders as well as the enforcement of orders overseas. There is a lack of clarity about what this will look like, but divorce petitions issued before the end of the transition period will fall into the old rules.
Emma also mentioned the ‘no fault’ divorce reform due to come in next year, which will remove the requirement for divorcing couples to list one party as at fault. Some couples who have split amicably are holding off until this has been brought in before issuing their divorce petition. This increase in divorce rates is therefore likely to extend over the next year.
Emma’s advice to any couple divorcing, if they have children, is to put the children first in any discussions.
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