Adultery leads as the most common reason couples divorce
According to research, the most common reason couples today divorce is adultery. This is due to the speed of the process, allowing couples to move on with their lives faster.
The proportion of divorces granted to wives because of ‘unreasonable behaviour’ has increased dramatically from 17 per cent in 1971, trebling to 51 per cent in 2016.
Among husbands being granted a divorce, the rise has been even more astonishing. Studies from the University of Oxford indicated figures are up from two per cent to 36 per cent.
Senior Research Associate Fellow John Haskey, said: “Divorcing couples have become pragmatic in using the provisions of divorce law – learning or being advised, that petitioning on a ‘fault’ fact ensures a faster divorce than on a separation fact – with ‘unreasonable behaviour’ providing the fastest.
“Furthermore, the strength of evidence, and level of detail required for ‘unreasonable behaviour’ has weakened over the decades, and is now nominal.’
The Divorce Reform Act 1969 implemented in 1971 made the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage the sole ground for divorce.
Within the clause there are only limited options as to why the couple want to divorce, which include: two people have been living apart for at least five years, both parties have agreed to separate due to ‘no fault’ of their own, or one accuses the other of adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion.
Last week The Supreme Court ruled that Tini Owens, 68, must stay married to her husband Hugh, in his 80s, even though she is unhappy. This decision was made after Mr. Owens insisted the relationship had not broken down irretrievably. Leaving Ms. Owens locked in her marriage.
Desertion is now the least used grounds for divorce, representing less than one per cent of cases in 2016.
One of the reasons for these figures may be that respondents must have deserted the petitioner for at least two years before they file for divorce, which is exactly the same wait as a two-year separation consent.
David Gauke, the Justice Secretary, is reported to be examining the evidence for change following and accepts “the strength of feeling on the issue”.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman added: “The current system of divorce creates unnecessary resentment in an already difficult situation. We are already looking at possible reforms to the system.”