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Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year for some, but for others, the festive season piles on the pressure and amplifies simmering tensions between couples. A combination of being cooped up inside for longer periods, money worries, festive boozing, and the dreaded in-laws can be the perfect storm for relationship breakdown, as evidenced by the sudden spike in divorce filings on the first working day of January each year – a phenomenon that’s been dubbed National Divorce Day.
A day to remember, for the wrong reasons

This year’s Divorce Day fell on the 3rd January, and we have reason to believe that it could be the busiest yet for lawyers, especially since the introduction of the new ‘no-fault divorce’ this April.

Family Court Statistics show that there were 30,154 divorce petitions made in the UK during the January to March period in 2022, less than the same period in 2021, but significantly more that the final quarter of the previous year, it’s believed that many couple experiencing problems wait until the holidays are over before commencing proceedings.

Our Legal Assistance Helpline have seen similar trends in recent with significantly more calls from people seeking information on divorce. Some of the most common questions we face are:

How soon can I get divorced?

You can get a divorced in England and Wales if all the following are true:

  • You’ve been married for over a year
  • Your relationship has permanently broken down
  • Your marriage is legally recognised in the UK (including same-sex marriage)
What documents do I need?

Divorce applications forms are available on the website. You will need to provide your original marriage certificate and a certification translation of your marriage certificate if it’s not in English.

Do I need a solicitor?

You are not legally required to instruct a solicitor to get a divorce, however, we would always recommend legal representation to ensure you get the best possible legal advice, support and settlement.

How long does divorce take?

It can take as little as 5-6 months, but a solicitor will always recommend that financial issues between you and your spouse are settled before you complete the divorce process, which may lead to delays.

Divorce Day 2023, the busiest yet?

This April, so-called ‘no-fault’ divorces’ were introduced under the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020. Under the previous law, it was only possible to get a ‘no fault’ divorce after a period of separation, i.e., a two-year separation if agreed by the other spouse, and a five-year separation if there’s no agreement.

Following the changes, which we wrote about in detail earlier this year, there’s no longer a requirement to place fault or blame for divorce to be granted. Spouses can apply for divorce solely on the basis that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and don’t need to prove one of the following: unreasonable behaviour, adultery, desertion, that they’ve been separated for two years, with consent or that they’ve been separated for five years, without consent.

The law also prevents the divorce application from being contested by the other spouse simply because they do not want to get divorced (the divorce can only be disputed on specific legal grounds e.g., Jurisdiction). The intention was to allow couples to pursue an amicable and cost-effective divorce, without the risk of it being contested and becoming an even more painful, drawn-out process.

In the wake of the new law, the Law Society cited that more than 12,000 new divorce applications were filed in April, a significant increase in ‘no-fault’ divorce filings from the period prior.

The relative ease at which couples can now file for divorce means that we’re likely to see even greater numbers than ever this ‘Divorce Day’. Though it is undoubtedly going to be a difficult time for all parties involved, we’ll be here to offer our customers advice and guidance on the legal aspects of divorce through our Legal Assistance Helpline which is available 365 days a year.

Mike Jenkins, Head of Legal Advice, Arc Legal Group

For further information on the above, or details of our products and services, please contact your Partnerships Manager or email

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