Analysis of over 5 million divorce cases has shown that claims of unreasonable behaviour as grounds for divorce have rocketed, whilst couples are now only half as likely to cite adultery as the cause of their marriage breakdown.
The results have come from a survey conducted by Co-operative Legal services, comparing grounds for divorce cited in the decades from the 1970s up until the present day.
The survey has found that during the 1970s, 29% of marriages broke down as a result of adultery, with the figures showing that only 15% of divorces are down to infidelity nowadays. Unreasonable behaviour was cited in 28% of cases in the 1970s but these days accounts for almost half of all divorce cases.
A huge variety of examples of unreasonable behaviour are given to divorce lawyers; Co-operative Legal Services’ director of policy, Christina Blacklaws, said: “Although society’s attitudes to divorce have changed, with less of a stigma attached to it, the grounds for divorce have remained enshrined in law for decades.”
She also explained that there was a widely held belief that unreasonable male behaviour was the reason for divorces but that there has been a “marked shift over the decades, with men now five times more likely than in the 70s to be granted a divorce because of the unreasonable actions of wives.”
According to the study, the 1980s seems to have been the worst decade for the most break-ups due to adultery whilst the 1990s saw the highest number of divorces at just over 1.5 million. In comparison, during the 1970s there were around 1.1 million divorces and just 275,000 in the 1950s.
Christina Blacklaws said: “We now see around five times as many divorces as occurred in the 50s, and sadly for every two marriages we also witness a divorce. The breakdown of any marriage can be problematic but the rise of home ownership and [more] working mothers means more consideration needs to be given to agreeing how finances, including pension rights, will be divided, to caring responsibilities and custody of children.”