Photo courtesy of BBC
According to a new study, more Britons will initiate divorce proceedings today than on any other day of the year. A survey of 100 divorce lawyers by the website insidedivorce.com found that Christmas was often the final nail in the marital coffin, leading to an increase in the number of people instructing solicitors in the new year.
The divorce lawyer James Stewart, of Manches LLP, said: “Extra time together can force problems that already exist in the relationship to come to a head. We’re expecting this to be our busiest day and indeed our busiest week.”
A poll of divorced, married and separated people also found that nearly a fifth of couples in Britain were on the brink of splitting up and one in 10 said they no longer had sex.
Of the 2,000-plus respondents, 16% said their marriage was “on shaky ground”, while another 2.5% said it was “on the rocks”.
The main provocation for divorce was infidelity, with more than a quarter (27%) saying the tipping point in the marriage was discovering their partner was having an affair.
More than half (54%) said they had discovered their partner’s infidelity for themselves, a fifth of unfaithful spouses confessed, 4% said they were told by the other man or woman, while 1% were told by a letter or text message.
The second most common reason for ending a marriage was falling out of love - cited by nearly a quarter (22%) of those polled.
One in six women (15.9%) and 6% of men gave a serious incident of abuse as the reason for a marriage breaking down.
Nearly half of those surveyed said their sex lives had decreased, with men citing “lack of sex” as the biggest factor in marriage breakdown.
Fay Rowe, the editor of insidedivorce.com, said: “It is worrying that sex - not having it or having it with someone other than your partner - is the main catalyst for divorce. It suggests we are no longer satisfied with having one partner in life.”
Paula Hall, a relationship psychotherapist for Relate, said: “With the exception of abuse, the reasons cited in this report are common symptoms of a relationship in jeopardy.”
The research confirmed the “seven-year itch” was a problem, with British couples being married on average for seven years and three months before realising it was not working out.
But the survey also suggested that marriages of more than 10 and a half years would probably last.
Divorce rates are at their lowest level since 2000, according to the latest figures from the National Statistics Office, which show 155,000 divorces were granted in 2005.
The researchers also interviewed 341 children on how divorce affected them. They found that 80% of children of divorced parents said their home life was the same or better after divorce. Only a quarter wanted their parents to get back together.
The children said the biggest benefit of divorce was an end to arguments, while the worst drawback was parents bickering over the time they got to spend with them.