Online searches for divorce-related terms fell dramatically during lockdown – with a 55 per cent drop in people searching for how to file for a divorce in the UK between March and July this year.
Analysis by legal experts Beecham Peacock has looked out divorce trends between last September and this September – focussing on the lockdown months.
They found Birkenhead is the UK’s divorce hotspot while residents in Glasgow have been searching for ‘divorce’ the most in lockdown.
Data shows that divorcing couples were married for an average of 12.5 years, while 42% of marriages in England and Wales now end in divorce
60% of opposite-sex marriages end before the 20th wedding anniversary.
According to Beecham Peacock the shortest UK marriage on record lasted just 90 minutes in 2004.
The most common ground for divorce is unreasonable behaviour with 62% of divorces between opposite-sex couples initiated by the wife
Beecham Peacock’s research shows that the UK divorce hotspots are:
Leeds & London
Leicester, Plymouth, Hull & Liverpool
Bristol & Portsmouth
The study also revealed that searches for divorce-related terms online dramatically reduced during lockdown.
According to Beecham Peacock it may be that with a lockdown in place many people felt uncomfortable filing for divorce while things were so uncertain, and they were potentially still living with their ex. This would explain the reduction in searched for divorce-related terms.
Divorce rates declined during the last recession. From 2006 to 2007 the number of divorces decreased by 3.0339% and from 2007-2008 there was a 5.01284% decrease in the number of divorces.
A spokesman for Beecham Peacock said: “The steady decline we’re seeing in search volume for divorce-related queries in 2020 mirrors that somewhat.
“It’s also worth considering that the current situation itself presents a “make or break” style situation so it may also have caused couples to evaluate their issues and work through them without the need for divorce.
“Then once lockdown eased, we can see some terms like ‘divorce application’ start to return to its usual position in search volume. This could be an indication of things to come as we return to some sense of normality.”
The latest divorce data from ONS shows that 83% of wives petitioning for divorce and 73% of husbands initiating divorce proceedings was on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour.
Unreasonable behaviour covers a wide range of issues, from lack of emotional support or a sexual relationship, to refusing to contribute financially and more serious actions, such as domestic abuse.
This is in line with the most recent research from Women’s Aid which showed that 67% of survivors who are currently experiencing abuse said domestic abuse is escalating in lockdown, with 72% saying their partner had become more controlling since Covid-19.
ONS data shows that the average age for divorce among opposite-sex couples is 46.9 years for men and 44.5 years for women. The divorce rate for opposite-sex couples is highest for men aged 45-49 and women aged 40-44.
There were 90,871 divorces of opposite-sex couples in 2018, a decrease of 10.6% compared with 2017. This is the lowest numbers since 1971.