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Divorce too easy, poll finds

Both married and divorced people agree there are not enough legal hurdles to separation

14 January 2013

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Nearly 60 per cent of Brits think the law does not put off couples from dissolving their marriages, according to research about divorce.

Of the 2,000 people polled by ICM for law firm Pannone, 57 per cent agreed or strongly agreed that “it is too easy to divorce these days”. From those that are married, 58 per cent agreed with the statement; so too did 56 per cent of divorcees.

Women (59 per cent) were a bit more inclined to agree with the statement than men (55 per cent). And most people aged 18 to 24 concurred.

The economy appears to have affected divorce courts. Financial struggles are putting pressure on relationships and making divorces more hostile couples battle over diminishing assets.

Those questioned thought marriages were more likely to fall apart because of tensions caused by infidelity rather than money worries or rows about children and housework.

Two-thirds believed that infidelity by either spouse was likely to be the main cause of divorce. Just over half felt married couples were most likely to break up because they had begun to lead different lives while one-quarter named problems managing money as the main reason for separation.

Celebrity influence

Pannone partner Fiona Wood said the survey findings underlined how marriage is still felt to be an important commitment despite significant changes in recent years in the nature of relationships.

“My experience as a divorce lawyer is that the vast majority of those who divorce only do so after making great efforts to save their marriages. They have tended to view divorce as a last resort,” she said.

“However, it would appear that people believe that some of those who marry are too willing to walk away from domestic difficulties.

“Even those who choose to cohabit rather than marry feel those who have wed should be doing all they can to make things work.

“It may well be that coverage of celebrities who go their separate ways after only a relatively short period of married life has perhaps influenced the public’s views of divorced couples as a whole.”

The results were revealed ahead of the publication of the latest divorce figures by the Office for National Statistics at the end of December, which showed divorce rates had fallen.

The number of cases had seen a 1.7 per cent decrease, from 119,589 to 117,558, since 2010.

The 40 to 44 age group for men and women saw the highest number of divorces in 2011. And based on marriage, divorce and mortality statistics for 2010, it is estimated that the percentage of marriages ending in divorce is 42 per cent, compared with 45 per cent in 2005.

The annual statistics were for divorces, comprising dissolved and annulled marriages, that took place in England and Wales in 2011 following court orders.

Read the full statistics here.

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