By Jim Richards, Senior Associate at Winckworth Sherwood
6 April 2022 marked a red-letter day for divorce and family law. No fault divorce is introduced, an apparently progressive step in terms of allowing couples to part with less acrimony. At the same time, many will be feeling the pinch of a national insurance rise, along with further tax rises in the pipeline.
This, when allied to the rate of inflation, a perceived drop in living standards, not to mention the fuel crisis which is currently hitting this country, creates a general feeling of caution and inertia.
Such evidence as there is (which emanates largely from the United States), shows that in tough times, families tend to stick together rather than part.
Certainly, the last quarter of 2021 tends to back this up. The latest court statistics show a 25% drop in matrimonial applications and a 13% fall in the number of new divorce cases.
Whatever the cause, this can mean only one thing, particularly in the context of the significant rise in domestic abuse recorded during the pandemic: many families who really should not be together are still living together.
Often, people say they “stay together for the sake of the children” as though children are unaware of the situation between adults and remain unaffected by the uncertainty and unhappiness caused by their parents’ relationship failing.
If people do not feel confident enough to leave a relationship that has come to an end it is a matter which affects all concerned. Living in limbo because you can’t see a way out, is unlikely to enable anyone to thrive, nor will this enable children to develop good relationship models. The impact on mental health and well-being is enormous.
Whatever effect the change in divorce laws may bring, if current trends continue, fractured families who continue to live together when they should begin the process of separation, will only cause misery for tens of thousands of people.