The stigma of divorce remains strong

A recent study has found that couples who divorce still feel a sense of shame and failure. The study found that this sense of failure is still felt by many couples, even in this age of ‘fault-free’ divorces and marriage pre-nup agreements.

In research carried out for Slater and Gordon, nearly a third of people who had gone through a divorce said that they had tried to ‘stave off’ divorce for as long as possible, indicating that despite a steady decline in the status of marriage, traditional views of marriage still remain.

The study questioned 1,000 people who have been divorced and found that the average time that it takes for people to feel that they were emotionally ‘back on track’ was around four years.

Slater and Gordon commissioned the survey to mark the publication of their new law guide and the findings come at a time when divorce rates are at their lowest for 40 years.

Official statistics show that people are getting married when they are older and the drop in divorce rates could be a result of older couples being more committed to staying together. Slater and Gordon’s survey found that 46 per cent of those who had divorced felt that they faced ‘daily judgement from people because their marriage had failed.

The study also found that: ‘Although the most common reasons people stayed in an unhappy marriage were because of concerns over their children and finances, one in ten said that they continued working at their marriage because they felt there was a stigma to being a divorcee.’

Over a third of those who took park in the survey felt: ‘they knew getting divorced would be seen as a personal failure so kept trying to salvage their marriage as a result.’

1971 saw the introduction of the liberal divorce laws that we know today and since then the majority of divorce cases have been finalised without blame being attached to either side, with judges no longer considering who is to blame for the end of the marriage.

The legal profession and it’s law reform advisory body, the Law Commission, is putting pressure upon ministers to give legal weight to pre-nup deals in which couples agree who their assets will be divided in the event of divorce, before the wedding has even taken place. Dismissing the idea that pre-nups would undermine the idea of marriage for life, the Law Commission said: ‘the evolution of the law and changed social attitudes have made this public policy rule obsolete.’

Slater and Gordon’s survey also found that nearly six out of ten people said they had lost friends after divorce, with women finding it twice as hard as men to make new friends. One in six of those who responded to the survey said that they had lost all of their friends after their divorce.


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