The Law Gazette has published an article this morning with some statistics on the new divorce rules. According to the article, the average number of divorce cases per week was 2,071 in 2021, and HMCTS have already received around 3,000 applications since the new rules went live last week: more than a 50% increase.
A similar article in the Daily Mail suggests that this is “fuelling fears the rule change has made marriage splits easier”.
As a specialist family law, I completely disagree. I don’t think that any of these new divorce petitions have been filed by people who had no previous plans to divorce but are just doing so now because its easier: the notion is absurd! Once the initial surge of people who were waiting to apply under the new regime has passed, I fully expect that the number of applications will fall back in line with the previous average. It would be interesting to see the average number of divorce applications per week from January to March this year ie the 3 months before the law change, as I bet the figure will be lower than the average in 2021.
I think this surge in applications during the first week shows that several couples were waiting for the new rules to come into force before applying for their divorce, as they did not want to have to blame their spouse under the old rules. Despite the odd loud minority voice in the mainstream media, I truly believe that these early statistics only go to show how long overdue this change really was!
HMCTS officials revealed that they have received around 3,000 applications under the new regime.