As the clock struck midnight on the 1st of January 2024, not only did it mark the beginning of a new year but also the renowned “Divorce Month.” This annual phenomenon sees a surge in enquiries to family lawyers from couples seeking to untangle the threads of their marriages. However, this year’s Divorce Month may differ, according to recent research that unveiled the profound impact the cost of living crisis had on divorce proceedings.
In this blog post, we will delve into the key divorce statistics and trends, shedding light on the financial pressures causing delays and explore why many individuals choose Divorce Month to initiate this stressful process.
The Cost of Living Crisis and Its Ripple Effect on Divorce Proceedings
Legal & General’s research reveals a staggering statistic – the cost of living crisis has led to the postponement of 19% of divorces, involving a staggering 270,000 couples. Fair Result emphasises that financial pressures, including income concerns, cost of living pressures, and the expenses associated with divorce, have become significant deterrents to separation.
The Economic Strain and its Role in Delaying Divorces
Peter Marples, Director at Fair Result said, “While financial pressures can be a breaking point for some couples, they also serve as a glue, keeping others together. The challenging economic landscape, characterised by inflation and interest rate rises since 2020, has made it difficult for families to navigate the complexities of divorce. Selling and buying homes, new mortgage rates, and maintaining two households have become unattainable for many.”
Divorce Month: A Consequence of Economic Challenges
The timing of divorce enquiries, particularly on the first working day after the new year, has earned the title “Divorce Month.” However, the research suggests a shift in this trend, with 272,000 divorces reportedly postponed due to financial concerns. The economic strain is evident, as 48% of divorcees experienced a 31% reduction in their incomes, leaving them with an average of £9,700 less each year.
The Overlooked Role of Pensions in Divorce
Surprisingly, despite the financial implications of divorce, only one in five couples discussed their pensions when dividing assets. The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) released guidance on how private workplace pension schemes could aid spouses during divorce, highlighting the importance of considering long-term financial implications.
The Fallout on Retirement Funds
The impact of divorce on retirement funds is significant, with an average monthly reduction of £63 contributed to pension pots. Joe Dabrowski, Deputy Director of Policy at the PLSA, emphasises the importance of ensuring both parties are provided for in retirement, especially when one party has been the primary earner.
Divorce Statistics and Trends in 2023
A comprehensive look at divorce statistics from 2023 reveals a changing landscape. The introduction of no-fault divorce laws in April 2022 aimed to reduce conflict among divorcing couples. Between April and June 2023, there were 24,624 divorce applications under the new law, marking a 30% decrease from the previous year when the law was first introduced.
Reasons Behind January Divorce Enquiries
The tradition of Divorce Month, often fuelled by media reports, is questioned by family lawyers who note similar peaks in divorce enquiries in other months, such as September. The post-holiday period brings a culmination of pressures, from the demands of the festive season to the desire to create a perfect Christmas. Couples may also postpone divorce until after Christmas, attempting to save their marriage or provide one last united holiday for their children.
When is the Right Time to Start a Divorce?
Divorce Month does not impose a mandatory starting point for divorce proceedings. Understanding the readiness to divorce involves considering various factors. The decision may stem from the pressures of the festive season, the desire to save the marriage for one final Christmas, or the reflection and resolutions that come with the new year.
A New Chapter and Positive Resolutions
Amidst the challenges, divorce also signifies a new beginning. Individuals contemplating divorce are encouraged to communicate and resolve disputes amicably, focussing on co-parenting for the wellbeing of their children. The end of a marriage can be an opportunity for personal growth and positive change.
As we navigate Divorce Month 2024 against the backdrop of a cost of living crisis, it is crucial to acknowledge the challenges and opportunities presented by divorce. If you are considering divorce, seek the guidance of divorce professionals to ensure a fair and equitable process. Whether it’s financial advice or legal support, taking proactive steps can pave the way for a smoother transition. Embrace the new chapter that awaits and ensure that the decisions made during this challenging time lay the foundation for a brighter future.
Do you have any questions or need support with initiating divorce proceedings? Contact our team of experts today.