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January 2nd is Divorce Day - here’s what that means

Lawyers receive a ‘surge of new enquiries from couples about divorce’ on Divorce Day

Sabrina Barr,Amber Raiken
Tuesday 02 January 2024 17:34 GMT
Adele files for divorce from husband Simon Konecki

As the holiday season has come to a close, the new year has marked the start of another annual occasion: Divorce Day.

Divorce Day, as it has come to be known by lawyers in recent years, is a day on which law firms reportedly see a spike in couples filing to split from one another. It falls on the first Monday after 1 January – which this year is on Monday 2 January 2024. In addition, the common day for divorce is likely due to high numbers of separating couples hoping for a new start with the new year.

Over the years, data has shown a rise in divorce rates. The Office for National Statistics - ONS - found that in 2021, there were 113,505 divorces granted in England and Wales. This was a 9.6 per cent increase in breakups, as there were 103,592 divorces granted in 2020.

The statistics also found that a majority of divorces in 2021 were among opposite-sex couples, with divorce rates at “9.3 for men and 9.4 for women per 1,000 of the married population”. Within those couples, females were more likely to petition for divorce than men, with 63.1 per cent of those divorces petitioned by women.

One common reason for divorce was unreasonable behaviour, with 48.1 per cent of women citing it in their divorce petitions. Meanwhile, most men who petitioned for divorce also cited unreasonable behaviour of a two-year separation as the reason for the split.

According to ONS, approximately four in 10 marriages end in divorce, with around half occurring within the first 10 years of matrimony. The UK publication also notes that once couples reach their 20th year of marriage, the cumulative percentages of marriages that end in divorce “increase less rapidly”.

In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also examined how frequently couples divorce. Statistics from the CDC found that in 2021, there were 689,308 divorces filed in 45 reporting states and DC. From there, it was reported that divorce rates in 2021 were 2.5 per every 1,000 population. During that year, there were also 1,985,072, making the marriage rate 6.0 per 1,000 total population.

Back in January 2019, relationship support organisation Relate reported a significant increase in the number of people visiting its website over the festive season. During the first three working days of the year, Relate received 84 per cent more visits to its website in comparison to the year before.

“The first Monday in January is when lawyers and law firms receive a surge of new enquiries from couples about divorce,” Relate stated, adding that it expected “enquiries to go through the roof”.

In November of that year, it was reported that divorce rates for mixed-sex couples in England and Wales had fallen to their lowest level for nearly half a century. Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that 101,669 divorces were recorded between mixed-sex couples in the 2017-2018 period. Divorce rates between mixed-sex couples fell to 90,871 for the 2018-2019 period, marking an 11 per cent decrease and the lowest statistic since 1971.

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