Why are Divorce Rates Rising in the UK?

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You don’t need to be a hotshot lawyer to know that filing for divorce can be messy and expensive. In many cases, it can take months for a divorce to become final, but that hasn’t put off many couples from filling in the forms and ending what may have once been happy marriages.

Late last year, statistics showed that the rate of couples filing for divorce rose for the first time in five years. This comes after a gradual decrease in the number of married couples choosing to rip up their wedding vows. With over 106,000 couples going down the divorce route, what is behind the rise?

One possible explanation is the lack of any changes to the current laws until late 2017. The most recent stats are for 2016, but since then, there has been a move to let couples do much of the divorce paperwork online as a cost-saving measure. This could serve to make divorce easier.

Experts’ Opinion

In recent months, many legal experts have shared their opinion about the supposedly outdated nature of UK divorce laws. Famous names such as Lord Mackay of Clashfern say that changes needed to be made. Among the amendments they want to make include stopping the laying of blame on one divorcee and making some divorces long, drawn-out processes.

The figures don’t take into account the number of people who have filled in the online forms, but should they gain popularity, expect divorce rates to rise further. Getting used to the forms and knowing how to fill them in correctly may stop some couples in their tracks.

In such cases, they may need to call upon divorce law firms such as Withersworldwide to make sense of the forms. Then, they can be asked for advice when moving onto decree nisi and then decree absolute.

Simplified Process?

What the online divorce forms have done is make going through the process easier. Individual divorcees can decide whether or not to accept an application from their partner and get the job done more quickly. With deadlines in place for completing forms and making applications, the timescale has become easier to grasp for unhappy couples.

Time will tell if the recent rise in divorces will see the prevailing trend of divorce rates falling is just a blip or the sign of things to come. As the online forms are rolled out, any changes to divorce law will surely be needed to keep pace with demand from couples who want to separate with as little fuss as possible.

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Speaking at Porlock Arts Festival

This evening I will be speaking at the Porlock Arts Festival accompanying Kate Mosse, author of ‘Labyrinth’. For more information, click here.

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Article for the Radcliffe Club

Heads-up for an article I wrote a while back and which has now been posted up at The Radcliffe Club – Law for Non Law. It covers in particular my second novel Law and Peace. Please note that the mass market edition of this book is now available at amazon. You can read the text of the article either here or below.

Writer Tim Kevan tells us about his second BabyBarista novel ‘Law and Peace’

Back in 2007 I had been practising as a barrister at what is now Temple Garden Chambers for some nine years and was enjoying the life of aLondon common law barrister. But I’d always dreamt of living by the sea and the surf and maybe even writing a novel. I just couldn’t quite see how it could be done. At that time I’d just finished co-writing a motivational book entitled Why Lawyers Should Surf with Dr Michelle Tempest, a book which encouraged people to look for inspiration outside of law and used surfing and the power of the ocean as metaphors for living the day to day. Next I wanted to sit down and write a legal thriller. But instead what popped out was a legal comedy about a fictional young barrister doing pupillage. I called him BabyBarista which was a play on words based on his first impression being that his coffee-making skills were probably as important to that year as any forensic legal abilities he may have. It’s a strange thing to say but I discovered that this bold, irreverent and mischievous voice along with a collection of colourful characters had simply jumped into my head and the words started pouring onto the page.

Since then I was lucky enough to get the first book Law and Disorder published by Harry Potter’s publisher Bloomsbury in 2009. It followed BabyBarista’s first year in chambers where he was fighting his fellow pupils for the coveted prize of a permanent tenancy. It was a fictional caricature of life at the Bar and included characters that probably exist in most workplaces such as UpTights, OldRuin, BusyBody, Worrier and even JudgeJewellery and her penchant for stealing cheap jewellery.  Alongside the pupillage race was an altogether different battle with BabyB’s corrupt pupilmaster TheBoss whose dishonest fiddling of chambers’ records to avoid a negligence action all started to unravel and threatened to embroil BabyB’s entire career.

Thankfully, the book seemed to be well-received with The Times calling it “a cross between The Talented Mr Ripley, Rumpole and Bridget Jones’s Diary”. It also continues to be published as a blog, having been picked up early on by The Times and more recently by The Guardian. All of which helped to lead Bloombury to commission book two in the series. This came as more of a challenge than the first given that I couldn’t simply use the stresses and strains of pupillage to drive the plot along and instead had to look to other themes and stories. In the end, I did just what I’d done in book one and let the characters loose to tell their own stories. What eventually came out was Law and Peace which was published by Bloomsbury this May and which thankfully has garnered some decent reviews with The Daily Mail describing it as “highly recommended” and a “funny, sharp account of backstabbing Bar life” and broadcaster Jeremy Vine calling it “a novel bursting with invention”.

The new book follows BabyBarista’s second year in chambers in which as the newest tenant in chambers, he must face down old enemies, try to win compensation for a group of ASBO-attracting pensioners and unravel the complicated knots of his love life – not to mention his mother’s finances. Under the wise and watchful eye of OldRuin, he tries to keep his nose (and his wig) clean, but when SlipperySlope, an unscrupulous solicitor offers him a quick way out of his financial difficulties he soon becomes embroiled in blackmail, dodgy share-dealing and the dark arts of litigation. With his old adversary TopFirst out for revenge and the chance to be awarded a coveted ‘red bag’ at stake, BabyB has to use all the tricks of his trade to extricate himself from his legal quagmire, win the case for his mad old clients, and somehow convince his best friend to fall in love with him.

One of the themes which comes out of the book is BabyBarista’s preoccupation with work and his failing to give enough time to his friends, family and other things which make him happy. In the end, it’s the example of others who show him the way with the old people taking him skateboarding and a friend of theirs introducing him to surfing as well as OldRuin, Claire and his mother emphasising the importance of love and friendship. It’s something which I’ve had time to reflect on myself having spent ten years at the Bar in London before taking what has become a prolonged break to move down to the sea in North Devon and write the BabyBarista books as well as publishing free legal email newsletters written by barristers (see eg www.lawbriefupdate.com/).

This has allowed me to return to the much simpler country way of life that I had known as a child with time to get out into the surf and the countryside as well as to settle into the local community. I guess the thing about legal life is that it doesn’t necessarily need to end up being over-worked and stressful. But in a profession that bills itself out by the hour, there’s an inherent risk of it producing a tendency to commoditise what might be our most precious possession, that of time itself. But as BabyBarista discovers, it certainly doesn’t have to be like that and during the course of the book he slowly starts to return to the things that really matter.

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