The Legal Services Board, which is responsible for overseeing the regulation of Lawyers in England and Wales, and states that its goal is to modernise Legal Services by putting the interest of consumers at the heart of the system, has recently issued some interesting statistics about Divorce and Legal Services.
- The number of families in the UK has risen from 16.5 million in 1996, to 18.2 million in 2013. 76% were married, but by 2013, just 68% were married or in a Civil Partnership.
- The proportion of cohabiting families has increased from 9% in 1996, to 16% in 2013, despite cohabitees having few of the rights enjoyed by those who are married or in Civil Partnerships.
- The 30 year trend of a fall in the number of marriages has continued. In 1973 there were some 400,000 marriages, by 2011, just 240,000.
- 42% of marriages end in divorce, 34% before the 20th wedding anniversary.
- The average marriage lasts 32 years.
- The chances of divorce are higher in the early years of marriage, peaking in the sixth year after marriage.
- For those marrying since 2000, the percentage ending in divorce appears to be falling. This may reflect the increase in the number of couplles living together before marriage, or marrying when older, filtering out weaker relationships.
- Divorce is invariably more straightforward if the parties have few assets, and no children.
- Debate continued about whether economic pressures arising from recession increase the Divorce rate. In 2011 the Guardian quoted Relate as saying ‘it is no surprise that the Divorce rate is rising given the pressures that couples and families are under’, but by February 2014 the Guardian was quoting a Family Lawyer as reporting that they had seen a rise in divorcing couples because ‘couples believe that they can finally afford to divorce now the recession appears to be coming to an end’.
- A growing proportion of men are Petitioning for divorce, and there remains a greater risk of divorce following a secondary marriage than a first.
- The majority of those who divorce are aged between 30 and 49.
- The main reason cited for Divorce is behaviour. Fewer people are divorcing on the basis of adultery.
- Only 69% of divorce Petitions end with Decree Absolute being made.
- In 2001, 79% who sought advice did so from a Solicitor. In 2010, 80% saw Solicitors as their main advisor.
- An annual survey of Family Lawyers reported a growth in the percentage of cases where they suspect that one party is concealing assets. The same survey reported that there was a growth in the value of assets in issue.
The statistics may make sobering reading for those who support marriage, as well as flag up the need to address the vulnerability of those who co-habit, but they also identify the continuing role lawyers have in ensuring people feel supported when seeking to settle arrangements about finances or children in the event of separation.
If you are looking to seek advice from a solicitor about a possible divorce, our specialist team of family lawyers in Exeter and Plymouth are happy to help.