Weston-super-Mare is one of UK's divorce hotspots
If you're newly married, don’t move to Weston-super-Mare.
That is the apparent message of new figures which show the town has the second highest number of divorce petitions lodged at its court for any place outside London.
Almost 2,500 couples filed for divorce at Weston-super-Mare County Court last year, despite the town having just 80,000 inhabitants.
By comparison Bristol County Court was the scene of 1,705 actions, the seventh highest number in the country but more than 700 behind Weston’s total of 2,447.
Birmingham was top of the list with 2,799 divorce petitions filed in the period between October 2011 to September 2012. But the Midlands city has a population of 1.1 million.
The statistics were published as the Ministry of Justice announced it is to encourage separating couples to use mediation before going to the courts. The Government says it is a quicker, simpler and more effective way of agreeing how to divide assets or make arrangements for children – and avoids the often divisive effect of the courtroom.
The ministry has already announced that it expects to spend £25 million to support publicly-funded mediation this year.
New laws are now being created to ensure that all separating couples must consider mediation to sort out the details of their divorce before moving their dispute to the courts.
Family justice minister Lord McNally said: “All too often I hear stories of families going through expensive and traumatic court hearings but we know that when working out how to split assets and arrange time with the children, mediation is a far simpler and cheaper approach for everyone and leads to better outcomes.
"That is why we are changing the law so that all couples seeking a court order about child contact or a financial matter must attend a mediation information assessment meeting first, to find out about mediation and consider whether it is suitable for them.”
A spokeswoman for the ministry said it did not know why the figures were so high for Weston.