Divorces hit five-year high as splits among same-sex couples nearly double

Divorces saw the biggest rise in five decades last year, with same-sex splits also nearly doubling.

The number of heterosexual couples breaking up hit a five year high in 2019, after spiking by a fifth - the biggest percentage increase since 1972.

Some 107,599 called time on their marriage in England and Wales last year, which was the largest total since 2014, when 111,169 divorces were granted. 

Meanwhile, same-sex divorces went from 428 to 822 last year - although couples have only been able to marry for the past five years. 

The Office for National Statistics insisted the increases could be partly blamed on a backlog of casework. 

However, lawyers have warned they expect a further rise due to the strain being put on relationships by the coronavirus crisis.    

The number of heterosexual couples breaking up hit a five year high in 2019, after spiking by a fifth - the biggest percentage increase since 1972 after laws were loosened

The number of heterosexual couples breaking up hit a five year high in 2019, after spiking by a fifth - the biggest percentage increase since 1972 after laws were loosened

The latest figures revealed that divorces of heterosexual couples rose by 18.4 per cent last year from 90,871 in 2018. 

It was the largest annual percentage increase in the number of divorces since 1972, following the introduction of the The Divorce Reform Act 1969 which made it easier for couples to divorce upon separation. 

The ONS said: 'The size of the increase can be partly attributed to a backlog of divorce petitions from 2017 that were processed by the Ministry of Justice in early 2018, some of which will have translated into decree absolutes (completed divorces) in 2019.

'This is likely to have contributed to both the particularly low number of divorces in 2018 (the lowest since 1971) and the increase seen in 2019.'

David Leadercramer, a partner at Osbornes Law who specialises in family cases, warned that there could be a further spike in divorces on the horizon due to the coronavirus pandemic putting 'immeasurable strain' on relationships.

He said: 'Despite these figures representing a large increase in divorces I predict this is the calm before the storm as I would expect to see even higher figures next year.

'The pandemic has put immeasurable strain on relationships and has caused a massive influx of cases hitting the divorce courts.

'In

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