Plymouth divorce hotspot?

Is Plymouth a divorce hotspot?

Posted by
James Harbottle
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Is Plymouth a divorce hotspot?

It has been reported in the last week that Plymouth is one of the top ten cities in the country for people searching the internet for information on divorce.

Lauren Preedy - Senior Associate Solicitor - Head of Divorce and Relationships Team
Lauren Preedy – Senior Associate Solicitor – Head of Divorce and Relationships Team

The report suggests that this may mean that Plymouth, where one of our offices is located, may be a ‘divorce hotspot’.

But is Plymouth really a divorce hotspot, and why might that be?


A divorce hotspot?

To answer the first question you would really need to know how many divorces were issued by people living in Plymouth, compared to other cities. Unfortunately, such information is not readily available.

It may have been possible to get an answer when divorces were dealt with by local divorce courts, but local courts stopped dealing with divorces when they were replaced by regional divorce centres in 2015. And even the regional centres are now being phased out, as divorces are being dealt with online.

So, whilst it may be the case that more people from Plymouth search online for information on divorce than most other cities, it is not really possible to say that Plymouth is a divorce ‘hotspot’. It may be, but more evidence would be required before a definitive answer could be given.


What might create a hotspot?Plymouth divorce hotspot?

Perhaps a more important question is: why might Plymouth, or anywhere else for that matter, be a divorce hotspot? Or, to put it another way, what local factors might make it more likely for a marriage to fail?

The first consideration just simply be population size. Plymouth is the 24th largest city in England and Wales (the two countries share the same legal system), with a population of 260,000. Obviously, the larger the population, the more divorces there are likely to be.

But that doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know.

What about demographic factors? Here, there might be a clue.

The city’s Wikipedia entry tells us the following:

“Plymouth’s gross value added (a measure of the size of its economy) was 5,169 million GBP in 2013 making up 25% of Devon’s GVA. Its GVA per person was £19,943 and compared to the national average of £23,755, was £3,812 lower. Plymouth’s unemployment rate was 7.0% in 2014 which was 2.0 points higher than the South West average and 0.8 points higher than the average for Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland).

“A 2014 profile by the National Health Service showed Plymouth had higher than average levels of poverty and deprivation (26.2% of the population among the poorest 20.4% nationally). Life expectancy, at 78.3 years for men and 82.1 for women, was the lowest of any region in the South West of England.”

Office meeting shot

So high unemployment and high levels of poverty and deprivation. Could these things be making Plymouth a divorce hotspot?

These factors do not of themselves condemn a marriage to failure, but they do of course have an adverse impact on family life, as is well understood.

For example, the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory, which examines data with a view to improving the family justice system, carried out a study this year into who was going to court in England to sort out arrangements for their children (obviously, child arrangements applications are made by separating parents, many of whom will also be getting divorced).

The study found that there is a clear link between deprivation and the number of child arrangements applications made by parents, with 29% of applicant fathers and 31% of mothers living in the most deprived quintile (by definition, representing 20% of the wider population), and 52% of fathers and 54% of mothers living in the two most deprived quintiles (representing 40% of the wider population).


Does any of this matter?


Well, of course it matters if people are living in deprivation, but in the end divorce can affect anyone, irrespective of their means or status. And if you are going through divorce, it makes no difference to you that you might live in a ‘hotspot’.

What really matters is that the process be as painless and constructive as possible, so that those going through it can quickly get on with their lives. And it is possible to achieve a painless divorce, as we explained here recently.

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