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In 2011, 42% of marriages ended in divorce and, according to the Office for National Statistics, 34% of married couples divorce before their 20th wedding anniversary – that’s more than 1 in 3! But why? What goes wrong? Here we take a look at the top reasons for divorce using statistics.

The Five Main Grounds for Divorce in the UK 

The most recent statistical report from the Office for National Statistics reveals that in 2012, the following reasons were cited as the fact proven at divorce:

Unreasonable Behaviour – 45%

Unreasonable behaviour is the most cited reason for divorce as it covers a number of aspects. Essentially, it refers to either the husband or wife behaving so badly the other half of the couple can no longer stay married to them. 

This could include physical violence, verbal abuse, addiction or refusing to pay for the expenses related to the marital home. 

Separation (2 years and consent) – 27%

You may be granted a divorce in the UK if you have been separated and lived apart for more than 2 years. Both must agree on a divorce. 

Adultery – 14%

Adultery, more commonly known as an affair, is a common reason for divorce. A marriage is a promise to love and be faithful to a person for a lifetime, therefore either party having sex with another person can break down trust and often cannot be forgiven – whatever the reason behind the stray. 

There are some restrictions with claiming adultery as the reason for divorce. It is not legally seen as a reason if the couple remain living together for 6 months or more after the innocent party finds out. Adultery can also not be claimed if the affair was between two people of the same sex. This also includes same-sex marriage cases. 

Separation (5years and consent) – 13%

Separation can be used as a reason, even if both parties do not agree on a divorce, if a married couple has been living apart for more than 5 years. 

Desertion – 1%

Although rare, desertion is the explanation for divorce in 1% of cases. This is when either partner unexpectedly leaves without good reason or to end the relationship and has been away for more than two of the last two and a half years. 

Do You Require a Divorce? 

If you’re considering a divorce and would like to know more about your rights and the process, please contact our friendly team of divorce solicitors by calling 0808 178 2773.

Alternatively, if you are yet to marry, learn about prenuptial agreements here.  

Information on the fact proven at divorce can be found in Table 8 of the ONS reference table ‘Number of Divorces, Age at Divorce and Marital Status Before Marriage’ 


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