Thirteen people filed for divorce on Christmas Day in England and Wales, official figures show.
They were among 455 online divorce applications submitted to HM Courts & Tribunals Service between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day.
Twenty-six people submitted applications on Christmas Eve, 23 on Boxing Day and 77 on New Year’s Day.
Since April 2018 spouses have been able to complete the divorce application process using the internet.
Instead of sending paperwork, people can fill in applications, upload the documents needed and pay fees online.
Figures released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) show more than 23,000 online divorce applications have been made since the platform was introduced.
Divorce rates for opposite-sex couples in England and Wales are at their lowest level since 1973, according to the latest figures published by the Office for National Statistics.
In 2017 there were 101,669 divorces of opposite-sex couples in England and Wales, a decrease of 5% on the previous year.
There were 338 divorces of same-sex couples in 2017, more than three times the number in 2016. However, same-sex marriages have only been possible in England and Wales since March 2014.
Ammanda Major, from relationship support charity Relate, said her organisation typically saw an increase in requests for help in January.
“Many people hope that the festive period will be a time of coming together, so when this doesn’t happen the sense of failure and sadness can further exacerbate problems that were there in the first place,” she said.
“Pressures can build up when people are spending an extended period of time together.
“For some people it might be the additional financial pressure of Christmas that triggers a problem, while for others it could be the stress of trying to keep everyone from the in-laws to the children happy.”
Grounds for divorce in England and Wales:
When you apply for a divorce you must prove your marriage has broken down and give one of the following reasons:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- You have lived apart for more than two years and both agree to the divorce
- You have lived apart for at least five years, even if your husband or wife disagrees
The introduction of “fully digital” divorces is part of a £1bn plan to modernise the justice system.
The MoJ said more than 150,000 people had used online justice services in 2018, taking the total to more than 300,000 in the past four years.
This included to lodge civil money claims, for probate applications, personal independence payment appeals and pleas in fare evasion cases and low level-motoring offences.
Justice minister Lucy Frazer said: “These online services are already making a difference to people who use the justice system.”
“As we reach this milestone, it’s encouraging to see people are reporting these services work well for them and are a better fit around their busy lives.”
The MoJ said the services do not replace existing paper-based applications, but provide a quicker, easier service for many people.
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