The image of “men behaving badly” has become so familiar that it has even lent its name to a sitcom.
But a new analysis of official divorce figures, dating back 40 years, shows a dramatic rise in the number of separations in which “unreasonable behaviour” by women has been recognised by the courts as the main cause.
The number of dissolutions granted to husbands in courts in England and Wales because of women behaving badly has increased sixfold in little more than a generation between 1971 and 2011.
Lawyers said the trend was likely to be a reflection of women becoming more financially independent in recent decades, and more willing to assert themselves.
But they suggested more generous divorce settlements for spouses with lower incomes – usually the wife – in recent years, have made it easier for women to leave their husband without fear of living in penury.