The reasons for divorce are many and varied – but sex is the single most common contributing factor.
In 43 per cent of recent cases analysed by divorce lawyers at family law specialist Woolley & Co, sex was directly tied to the reasons an individual wanted to divorce, including things like infidelity and unusual sexual preferences.
Lifestyle issues were mentioned in 37 per cent of the 100 cases studied, covering work pressures, growing apart, cultural differences, illness and issues, like the arrival of a child or a child moving out of home.
And the research showed that new technology like the internet and text messaging is increasingly being cited as a contributing factor in divorce – in around 11 per cent of cases. Anecdotal evidence suggests this is far more than five years ago.
Woolley & Co, which recently published a second edition of its popular guide book Surviving Family Conflict and Divorce, has lawyers working from home offices around the UK and 10 were asked to look back over their last 10 cases. The family lawyers were asked to assess each case in the main problem areas – sex, lifestyle, money, personality and power. They were then asked to give the main reason, or reasons, for each of their cases.
Among the specific issues cited for “sex” include perceptions of affairs or a run-away foreign bride. Cross dressing and using gay chat forums were also factors in cases.
“Having a greater understanding of the recurring contributing factors in a divorce allows professionals dealing with a case in whatever capacity to be better prepared for any issues that may arise,” said Andrew Woolley.
“Our results show very clearly that sex, in some form or other, is a major contributing factor in couples deciding to divorce.
“Lifestyle changes as well, whether it is a new job, the arrival or departure of children, or simply growing apart, was frequently a factor.
“Things like domestic violence and bullying fell under the “power” heading and were present in 21 per cent of cases, with personality at 24 per cent and money 11 per cent.
“The squeeze of the current economic climate is definitely starting to have an effect and we would expect to see the number involving money issues continue to rise.
“In particular, couples who perhaps enquired about how they might go about splitting assets and selling a house earlier in the year have now come back, wanting to move things along very quickly.
“It will be interesting to carry out another survey in 12 months and see if these figures have changed though.
“What is definitely apparent is the fact that the internet and text messages are increasingly contributing factors in a relationship breakdown. It might be that one of the parties has got in touch with an old flame via a social networking site, or explicit text messages are being exchanged. So while new technology is helping people keep in touch more easily, it is also making it easier for people to stray.”
Ten of Woolley & Co’s 11 lawyers were asked to look at their last 10 divorce cases and give the main reason(s) for the break. More than one reason could be given for each case. This snapshot was taken in July 2008.
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