Between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day, 455 online divorce applications were lodged in England and Wales. According to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), 26 people submitted applications on Christmas Eve, 13 on Christmas Day, 23 people filed on Boxing Day and 77 on New Year’s Day.
Amicable, a divorce support service, revealed that online searches for ‘divorce’ are 25% higher in January compared with any other time of the year. Relationship support charity, Relate, also report a 13% rise in calls and 58% spike in website users in the first month of every year. Experts believe that disputes arising from trying to create the perfect Christmas in addition to financial troubles over the festive break are the main reasons why married couples decide to split at this time of the year.
Simone Bose, a Relate counsellor, explained:
"No one’s saying that Christmas itself leads to divorce and separation, but if you’re already experiencing issues then added ‘festive pressures’ such as financial woes and family rows can push things from bad to breaking point."
From April 2018, couples have had the opportunity to complete the divorce application process using the internet. Since the platform was opened, more than 23,000 online divorce applications have been made.
The introduction of the online divorce petition service is part of a £1 billion plan to modernise the current justice system. The MoJ reported that the newly digitised system for applying for divorce has cut application form errors from 40% to less than 1%. On average, the time taken to complete a divorce application has also reduced by more than half an hour.
Grounds for divorce
In order to apply for a divorce in England and Wales, you must have been married for at least a year and able to prove your marriage has broken down due to one of the following:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- You have lived apart for more than two years and both parties agree to the divorce
- If your spouse does not agree to the separation, you must have lived apart from your partner for at least five years