Divorce applications have reached the highest number in a decade, following the introduction of the new quickie divorce law.
The Ministry of Justice’s family court quarterly statistics reveal that there were 33,566 applications for divorce, including the dissolution of civil partnerships, between April and June 2022. This was 22 percent higher than last year, and the greatest number since 2012.
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 came into effect on 6 April. Under the new law, couples can divorce in six months without having to give a reason and a spouse cannot contest the decision.
Between January and March 2022, before the new law came into force, there were 30,238 divorce and dissolution applications.
Simon Blain, a partner at Forsters law firm, stated that the courts still have a backlog following the coronavirus pandemic but acknowledged that “the standout statistic is the increase in divorce applications since the introduction of no-fault divorce on April 6 2022”.
He claimed that people may have waited for the new law to come into force before applying for divorce, “leading to a spike as this pent up demand was released after April 6”.
Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster, The Christian Institute’s Ciarán Kelly said that changing the law makes “divorce more likely” and “doesn’t remove the acrimony that’s caused by the disputes over assets and children. The evidence shows that children are affected badly by the nature of a divorce.”
Previously, anyone wanting to divorce their spouse had to prove their marriage had irretrievably broken down through either adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, or separation for two years with their spouse’s consent, or five years without.
The new law includes a statutory 20-week period that the Ministry of Justice describes as an opportunity for couples “to reflect and turn back”.