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Falling out of love - the leading reason for divorce in the UK

Date:1 SEP 2011
Journals Manager + Online Editor

ReportAccording to an annual survey on divorce, "growing apart/falling out of love" is the most frequently cited reason for a marriage breakdown.

Grant Thornton's latest annual study of divorce in the UK revealed that extramarital affairs, the main reason for filing a divorce since the survey began in 2003, has been replaced by "growing apart". Of the more than 100 family lawyers interviewed, 27 per cent claimed that "falling out of love" led to an irretrievable marriage breakdown, while extramarital affairs dropped to 25 per cent.

Louisa Plumb, associate director, forensic and investigation services at Grant Thornton, suggests that celebrities could be one of the main reasons why the general public has become more lenient towards extramarital affairs.

"We are seeing an increasing number of 'celebrities' putting up with alleged affairs in their marriage or relationship - with Abbey Clancy staying with Peter Crouch, and Cheryl Cole looking set to go back to Ashley.

"It may be that this is starting to have an effect on the behaviour of couples affected by extramarital affairs, with more marriages than before surviving a bout of infidelity."

The survey also found that 48 per cent of family lawyers believe that individuals are likely to conceal assets during divorce proceedings following the 2010 Imerman ruling, whilst a further 35 per cent consider it a possibility. Almost a third of respondents (30 per cent) said they were concerned that as a result, clients would no longer be able to obtain fair settlements, with more than half (61 per cent) believing the ruling will lead to more assets remaining undisclosed, affecting the accuracy of Form Es.

"The ruling has sent ripples through matrimonial circles. There is widespread concern that it unfairly strengthens the position of any spouse wishing to conceal assets which in turn could lead to settlements that are unfair; particularly for those who cannot afford to take the necessary legal steps to obtain documents which would conceal the true financial position," commented Sally Longworth, Partner at Grant Thornton's Forensic and Investigation Services practice

The study also revealed that following the implementation of the Family Procedure Rules in April 2010, 38% of solicitors surveyed were worried that the requirement for couples to attend a compulsory mediation assessment meeting would place undue pressure on the weaker party to mediate.

Two thirds of solicitors (67%) also expressed concern that some parties could take advantage of the potential delays arising from the requirement for mediation assessment meetings by moving or concealing assets.

The year on year rise in pre-nuptial work continued with 58% of respondents saying that they had seen an increase in volume. With the Radmacher v Granatino ruling being one of the most significant of 2010, 59% of those surveyed said that they expected further increases in volume over the coming year.