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Why do marriages breakdown?

View profile for Christopher Myles
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New results of a Matrimonial Survey in 2017 have been issued by Grant Thornton who report that the top 3 reasons why marriages breakdown are;

1. Growing apart/falling out of love (25%)
2. Extra-marital affairs (21%)
3. Unreasonable or controlling behaviour (20%)

The survey also revealed that 71% of marriages lasting between 11 and 20 years are the most popular time to get divorced.  

Over the years I have seen a pattern emerging that marriages are ending as a result of their children growing up and finding out they have little in common other than the children.  Children tend to be the number one topic and as children become more and more independent, couples are left wondering are they still ‘in love’. This hammers down how important it is to make time for one another and not get windswept into the busy working lives of parenthood and trying to achieve a good work and home life balance. 

In the eyes of the law ‘growing apart/falling out of love’ is not a sufficient ground to issue divorce proceedings. In this scenario, with current legislation, the couple would have to wait until they had been separated for 2 years before issuing divorce proceedings on a ‘no fault basis’. 

More and more people who visit our firm enquiring about divorces are surprised to find out that this is not possible in this day and age and assume that ‘no fault divorce’ is already the law.

Having to wait the 2 year period, before issuing divorce proceedings, means that neither husband nor wife is able to move on and they have to re visit the finances and issue divorce proceedings some 2 years later to finalise matters. This can cause a number of issues and upset, one being if either husband or wife’s financial situation changes. One person might inherit some money in that time or lose their job etc. The current law, when dealing with the finances of the marriage, requests for financial disclosure from both husband and wife to be exchanged within the last 12 months and NOT at the date of separation.

There are some options that are available to protect either party and reach an agreement when separated and not waiting the 2 year time period. Couples can agree a ‘Deed of Separation’ which would include financial disclosure exchanged at the time of separation and document the agreement reached.  They could also attend Mediation and discuss together, with a qualified mediator, how they wish to deal with the finances of the marriage and discuss who will issue divorce proceeding when the two year time period has lapsed. At mediation you could also talk about how you are going to distribute assets in the interim and discuss amicably how to deal with other issues like child arrangements. 

I am a qualified solicitor and mediator at Crombie Wilkinson Solicitors. If you are thinking of separating from your spouse and require further information or already separated, please feel free to contact me to discuss advice and options available to you.

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