What are the top 10 reasons for divorce?

Originally published on 28th September 2018 at 10:20 AM
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In this blog, we highlight the main reasons for divorce. Prior to the introduction of no-fault divorce in England and Wales, you were required to give a reason for why you were applying for a divorce. However, ‘no-fault divorce’ changed that and now it is optional whether you give a reason for your divorce or not. Due to the lack of recent statistics, we are opting to translate our own experience with divorce at amicable into a top 10 list of reasons for divorce.

What are the top 10 reasons for divorce?

  1. Major disputes

One of the top reasons for divorce are major disputes over issues like finances, parenting, or communication breakdowns.

  1. "Run out of steam"

Long marriages often end because they "run out of steam." Couples may grow apart, especially after children leave home or due to a lack of shared interests and communication.

  1. Relationship neglect

Neglect occurs due to a lack of prioritising the relationship amidst life stressors. Life stressors like children, job loss, and illness can divert focus from the relationship, leading to a decline in intimacy and emotional connection.

  1. Infidelity

Infidelity, whether emotional or physical, can be a main reason for divorce or a contributing factor throughout the relationship.

Shorter relationships are more likely to end due to cheating, while in longer marriages, reconciliation attempts are often made for the sake of children and complex financial situations.

  1. Financial strain

Money-related arguments are a primary cause of relationship strain and can eventually lead to divorce.

Financial pressures can cause resentment between partners, particularly if one isn't contributing financially or in cases of job loss. Enquiries about divorce often spike in January, likely due to financial strain from the holiday season.

  1. Addiction or 'bad behaviour'

Behavioural issues like addiction (e.g., gambling, substance abuse) or criminality can be a common reason for marriage breakdown. For example, thic could include a spouse's gambling addiction leading to significant debt and strain on the relationship.

It's difficult to sustain a relationship without the willingness of the individual with such behavioural issues to seek help and make necessary changes.

  1. Lack of intimacy

Lack of communication about intimacy and sexual needs can lead to misunderstandings and emotional distance.

People often have different needs and ways of feeling connected, which, if not understood and addressed, can lead to intimacy issues within the relationship.

Tip: Communication about sexual needs is essential for a healthy relationship, and seeking help to improve communication can be beneficial.

Listen to this episode of The Divorce Podcast to hear more advice from sex and relationship therapist Ian Kerner:

  1. Not hearing each other

Poor communication and feeling unheard can severely strain a relationship, leading to a breakdown.

A cycle of attack, defence, blame, and criticism characterises communication issues, which can erode the foundation of a relationship.

Tip: One of the key solutions is active listening, empathy, and a willingness to understand and meet each other's needs.

  1. Abuse

Abuse, encompassing physical, emotional, and economic harm, is a significant factor in divorce. Economic and emotional abuse can be subtle but escalate during the divorce process.

It’s recommended that you contact professionals that help with abuse is recommended if you or your friend/family member is going through this.

  1. Buyer's remorse

Buyer's remorse in marriage is more common in shorter marriages, often involving young couples who realise the marriage isn't what they wanted or expected.

The fluid approach to ending a marriage is more common in younger generations, where they are more willing to acknowledge incompatibility and separate amicably.

Note : one of the requirements for getting a divorce is that you have been married for at least a year. You can read more about what is required for divorce here.

If you have decided that it’s over and you’re struggling to emotionally finalise your relationship, we have a blog on when and how to leave a relationship.

‘Grounds for divorce’ – do you need a reason for divorce?

Prior to the introduction of ‘no-fault divorce’ in England and Wales on the 6th April 2022, there were five facts for divorce, often referred to as the ‘grounds for divorce’. You needed to choose one of the five facts to demonstrate that your marriage had broken down ‘irretrievably’ – the grounds for divorce were:

Today, after the introduction of no-fault divorce, you no longer need a reason for divorce. You just have to make sure that you and your partner fit these criteria:

  • you’ve been married for over a year
  • your relationship has permanently broken down
  • your marriage is legally recognised in the UK (including same-sex marriage)

What is the main reason for divorce?

Prior to the implementation of no-fault divorce, unreasonable behaviour was the most prominent reason for divorce. With approximately 42% of all married couples in England and Wales divorcing, if you haven’t been separated for at least two years, or one of you hasn’t been unfaithful, you must then use unreasonable behaviour as your fact to support that your marriage has broken down irretrievably.


What are the top 3 reasons for divorce?

Before the introduction of no-fault divorce, the three top reasons for divorce were unreasonable behaviour, two years separation with consent, and five years separation (ONS, 2021).

What are the 5 reasons for divorce?

There are five reasons used in England and Wales to support the fact your marriage has broken down irretrievably: two years separation with consent, five years separation, desertion, adultery, and unreasonable behaviour.

Statistically, what is the most common reason for divorce?

According to (ONS (2021) . , unreasonable behaviour is the most common reason for divorce.

Do you have to give a reason for divorce?

Since the introduction of no-fault divorce, you no longer need to give a reason for divorce, nor have one.


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Family Law
30.11.2019 11:58

This is a great blog post. It’s so true – there are so many things that go into making a marriage work. Your article is great – and really hits on the foundation and building blocks of a relationship. I really enjoyed reading this post!