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Steep rise in number of couples divorcing

(Photo: Sandy Millar)

The number of married couples divorcing rose sharply in the 12 months before lockdown started.

Figures obtained from the Ministry of Justice by the Daily Mail show a 23 per cent increase in the number of finalised divorces in the year leading up to March 2020. 

Between March 2019 and March 2020, divorces finalised in English and Welsh courts jumped from 91,609 to 112,284. 

Officials told the paper the spike may be down to an improvement in the digital handling of divorce applications.

With the Government preparing to make divorce even easier, Christian Concern’s Andrea Minichiello Williams said marriage was being rendered meaningless. 

“In our social structures, we have gutted marriage of its meaning as a solemn vow between one man and one woman for life,” she told the paper.

“If we change its meaning, it is in danger of meaning nothing at all. No wonder divorce is on the up.”

Divorce on demand is set to come into force next year but the changes, approved by MPs last month, have been fiercely opposed by Christian groups and MPs. 

In one of the biggest shake-ups to divorce law in England and Wales for half a century, spouses no longer need to prove unreasonable behaviour.  In other changes, the length of time to complete the divorce process will be shortened to just six months.

Tory MP Fiona Bruce told MPs that the reforms would send the “wrong message” about marriage.

“Making divorce easier and quicker will inevitably change the nature of the commitment that is made when marrying, because those doing so will recognise that it is something that can be exited easily and quickly, without having to prove that the relationship has broken down,” she said.

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