Warring couples are only half as likely to cite adultery as the cause of a marriage breakdown than they were 40 years ago, but claims of unreasonable behaviour have rocketed, analysis of more than 5m divorcecases has shown.
Co-operative Legal Services compared the grounds for divorce in the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s as well as the present day.
It found that while in the 70s, 29% of marriages ended because of adultery, the latest figures show only 15% of divorces were down to infidelity. In the 70s unreasonable behaviour was cited in 28% of cases but it now accounts for almost half of all divorces (47%).
Examples of unreasonable behaviour given to lawyers for divorce include an unsociable husband making his wife feel guilty when she wanted to go out with her friends; a cross-dressing husband who decided to have a sex change; and a spouse withdrawing all the family savings – £40,000 – and burning it in the bedroom.
Christina Blacklaws, director of policy at Co-operative Legal Services, said: “Although society’s attitudes to divorce have changed, with less of a stigma attached to it, the grounds for divorce have remained enshrined in law for decades.”