THE Coronavirus pandemic could be directly responsible for an impending surge in the divorce rate in the UK, according to new data.

Figures released today by comparison site The Law Superstore reveals how the demand for legal services relating to divorce was 30% higher in May and June 2020 than in the final quarter of 2019.

Registrations for quotes for divorce legal services began to rise in late March and climbed sharply throughout April to reach record levels in May and June, when couples began to emerge from the Government-mandated lockdown, the figures show.

Demand peaked during the week beginning May 25, two weeks after lockdown ended for most of the UK, at which point interest in divorce legal services was 80% higher than the average during Q4 2019.

The data indicates that conflict arising from families being forced into lockdown together, followed by prolonged periods of reduced social contact and home working, created a pressure cooker environment for many married couples with added stress from arising from financial concerns, childcare and home schooling, health worries and reduced support from family, friends and professionals.

Rob Houghton, CEO of The Law Superstore, said: “Spending eight weeks or longer in the same house as your spouse might be an enjoyable experience for some, but for many couples it has caused significant amounts of stress and conflict, intensifying existing marital tensions.

“This clear trend of rising demand for legal services relating to divorce since the end of lockdown suggests that many families found the pressure of forced isolation together too great, and with long-term home-working becoming more established, it’s possible divorce rates will remain above the long term average for some time.”

Demand for will-writing services also increased early in the pandemic, the data revealed.

The pandemic has also had some positive effects on families by highlighting the need to have an up to date will in place, prompting people to action a task that often languishes at the bottom of the ‘to do’ list.

Interest in will-writing services peaked in March 2020 at 70% above the average for Q4 2019, while the proportion of customers writing wills for the first time jumped by 13% in March and 25% in April compared to the average for 2019.

Mr Houghton added: “One positive outcome from the pandemic is that it’s encouraged people to take sensible and practical steps to ensure they have an up to date will in place in the event of their death, particularly among those who are doing so for the first time.

"Will-writing can largely be completed online and since it’s now legal for will signing to be witnessed virtually over video-link if necessary, there’s really no reason to delay.”