Newcastle’s Top Divorce and Family Law Specialists  states a new study has shown that a much higher proportion of divorces are now sought on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour rather than on adultery. Co-Operative Legal Services analysed 5 million divorce cases to arrive at these conclusions, comparing the grounds for divorce over the past five decades.
In 2013 unreasonable behaviour was cited in 47% of divorces and adultery in just 15%.
This is a complete contrast from the 1970s when 29% of divorce petitions cited adultery and 28% were based on claims of unreasonable behaviour. Men are also now five times more likely to divorce their wives for unreasonable behaviour than they were in the 1970s.
As it is not possible under UK law to divorce on the basis of “irreconcilable differences”, it is possible that petitioning for divorce based on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour is the only option available to couples who wish to divorce quickly, without enduring a 2-year separation first. This may go some way to explaining the increase in its use, along with increased recognition of domestic violence or abuse and the forms, both physical and non-physical, that this may take. Of course, it is also the case that although the legal basis for divorce has not altered since the 1970s, social attitudes and the stigma attached to divorce have changed considerably.