Couples ‘now have a humane exit route,’ says lawyer
- Divorce applications soared by almost 50% a week after ‘no fault’ law came in
- Around 3,000 couples have petitioned to end their marriages since last week
- The law does not require couples to apportion blame in order to end marriage
Divorce applications have surged by as much as 50 per cent since no-fault laws were introduced a week ago, according to new figures.
Around 3,000 couples have petitioned to end their marriages since the rules, which do not require couples to apportion blame, began in England and Wales last Wednesday.
Lawyers said that this was almost 50 per cent more than in a typical week.
Hannah Gumbrill-Ward, of the family team at law firm Winckworth Sherwood, said: ‘It does seem that some people were holding out for the introduction of no fault divorce.’
However the figure may have been artificially inflated by IT issues, insiders said.
The new divorce law – which ends the need for one party to blame the other – was opposed by some Conservative backbenchers who feared it would lead to ‘an immediate spike in divorce rates’.
But ministers and family lawyers say the changes will help divorcing couples to resolve their issues amicably, rather than exacerbating conflict and harming children’s upbringing.
After delays due to technical problems, the no-fault process was finally implemented last week.
At a seminar for lawyers this week, Whitehall officials revealed that there had been around 3,000 applications for divorce since the new rules came into force last Wednesday.
That compares with 107,724 divorce petitions filed last year – an average of 2,072 a week – and 111,996 the year before, an average of 2,154 per week.
Ms Gumbrill-Ward added: ‘It will be interesting to see how these figures pan out across the whole quarter, and whether this initial flurry slows down and levels out.
‘Will the annual figures for 2022 see an increase because people wanted to avoid the blame game and start the process off on a more amicable footing? We will have to wait and see.’
Sources stressed that the system for recording divorces wasn’t working the week before, meaning the 3,000 figure may represent figures for two weeks.
Final figures are expected to be released in June.