The 6 Most Common Reasons Couples Get Divorced

2 Jan 2018 | Lisa Pepper

Following the UK’s transition to a no-fault divorce system, couples no longer need to identify a particular wrongdoing as a ground to end their marriage legally.

But while the legal divorce process may be simpler, the decision to go through with it is as difficult and complex as ever. Couples may decide to end their marriage for many reasons, whether they’ve experienced a one-time major betrayal like an affair or a gradual erosion of the relationship over time. Often, it’s a combination of factors that causes couples to drift apart.

Here are six of the most commonly cited reasons why people separate.

1. Infidelity

Unfaithfulness is a leading cause of divorce, whether through physical or emotional betrayal. When one partner discovers that their spouse has engaged in an emotional or sexual relationship with someone else, trust and respect can be irrevocably damaged.

Even if the straying partner apologises and begs for forgiveness, the betrayed partner may be unable to move past the act. That’s why adultery was the second most cited ground for divorce (after unreasonable behaviour) that you could use to show that your marriage had irretrievably broken down.

2. Lack of connection and commitment

While a thousand romantic comedies are built on the idea that opposites attract, in reality, couples need to feel they have something in common with their partner and are truly committed to having a happy, healthy marriage. There needs to be a “meeting of minds” for couples to stay together and put effort into the relationship.

Differences easily overlooked in the first flush of romantic passion can become more pronounced over time. If couples don’t do the work and find ways to bridge their differences, the bond between them can quickly deteriorate. One large-scale U.S. survey found that a staggering 73.2% of divorcing couples identified a lack of commitment as the main cause of their marital breakdown.

3. Money trouble

Around one in 10 couples split due to rows about money. But it’s not money trouble that pushes couples towards the divorce courts – it’s that couples have different ideas about managing the family’s finances. For example, one partner may be irresponsible with money and spend beyond their means, while the other prefers to save for a rainy day. Or one partner may be trying to control their spouse’s spending habits.

Different perspectives on finance aren’t usually a problem when a couple has financial stability. But the value difference can become more apparent if they face financial difficulties. Financial incompatibilities can also complicate negotiating financial settlements in divorce, making it crucial for couples to seek expert legal advice.

4. Poor communication

Poor communication comes in all shapes and sizes from constant arguing to sweeping problems under the rug to flat-out lying. But it all has the same result: couples who don’t talk to each other will find their relationship deteriorating quickly.

Communication is one of those issues that has cascading consequences. It can give rise to feelings of incompatibility, neglect, bitterness and resentment that can become overwhelming if left unchecked. Sometimes, couples can work on their communication problems and develop a healthy relationship again. In others, the lack of communication can be so severe that divorce becomes the only solution.

Where communication has deteriorated to a point of no return, couples may find mediation a useful tool in divorce negotiations.

5. Growing apart

Couples who have been together for many years can find themselves becoming more like strangers as they drift apart from each other. People change, and the activities and interests they once shared no longer hold a place in their lives, leaving them feeling lonely, sad or disconnected.

The process of children growing up and leaving the family home can often act as a catalyst for couples to assess the state of their relationship. This stage of life, called ’empty nest syndrome,’ leaves couples with abundant free time and a reduced set of parental obligations. Some couples embrace this time and reconnect on a deeper level. For others, it can amplify previously ignored pre-existing issues, leading many to realise that their relationship is not as strong as it once was.

6. Abuse

Abuse can take many forms and may include:

  • Domestic violence where one partner physically harms the other.
  • Emotional abuse where one partner belittles or criticises the other with hurtful words and actions.
  • Coercive control where one partner seeks to control the other by manipulating or restricting their behaviour.

These types of abuse can cause long-term psychological trauma, leaving the victim feeling scared, isolated and unable to trust their partner. In such cases, divorce could be the only way for victims to regain control of their lives and find safety and security.

In the old fault-based divorce system, any abuse would have been evidence of unreasonable behaviour to show that the marriage had irretrievably broken down.

Talk to a divorce solicitor.

If you and your partner are facing any of these issues in your marriage, it may be time to consider whether a divorce is the right decision. Our specialist divorce solicitors can help make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible, as well as signpost you to any additional resources that may be available. With the right support, you may be able to save your marriage and avoid going through a divorce.

Whatever decision you make, it’s important to get the right advice and support so you can move forward in the best way possible.

If you would like to discuss the situation further and get some free initial advice, contact us today. Our experienced solicitors are here to help.

Share this article


Contact us today

For a free initial conversation call 020 7485 8811

Email us Send us an email and we’ll get back to you

    Related InsightsVIEW ALL

    1. spousal maintenance

      What is Spousal Maintenance ?

      Spousal Maintenance Spousal maintenance is a legal obligation to provide financial support to a former spouse after the marriage or...

      Read more
    2. signing contract

      What is a Conditional Order?

      The introduction of no-fault divorces in England and Wales removed the need to assign blame for the breakdown of a...

      Read more
    3. man signing paperwork

      What is a consent order?

      Most divorcing couples agree on how their finances will be divided without going to court. A consent order is what...

      Read more
    4. child maintenance

      Child Maintenance for High Earners

      How much should be paid? When separating or divorcing parents cannot agree the amount of child maintenance to be paid, (...

      Read more
    5. 25.7.2023

      Family Dynamics: A Factor In Child Arrangements Cases

      In proceedings involving children, the parents should consider the impact their behaviour towards each other may have on how the...

      Read more
    6. rubber stamp

      Approving Consent Order In High Value Divorce Case...

      The case of Bogolyubov v Bogolyubov The best course of action for divorcing couples is to agree on a financial...

      Read more
    7. union jack

      Does Divorce Jurisdiction Matter?

      Is England/Wales the Right Jurisdiction for Your Divorce? When it comes to getting divorced, London has a lot of...

      Read more
    8. two people walking

      Breadwinner or homemaker in divorce. Does it matter?

      When agreeing on a financial settlement, does it matter if you’re a breadwinner or a homemaker? When it comes...

      Read more
    9. lady with two children

      What is Parental Responsibility?

      Understanding Parental Responsibility Parental responsibility is the legal term used to describe parents’ duties and responsibilities for their children. These...

      Read more
    10. couple holding hands

      Are trusts protected from divorce?

      Can trusts protect an inheritance from your spouse? A trust is a separate legal entity. Neither spouse owns its assets. ...

      Read more
    11. cube cafe camden

      Is a limited company protected from divorce?

      Is my spouse entitled to half of my business? If you are involved in running a limited company, then it...

      Read more
    12. man looking out

      How is a pension split in a divorce?

      Pensions and Divorce In a divorce, pensions are taken into account together with all other financial assets. Once all assets...

      Read more
    13. Camden house red door

      Who gets the house in a divorce?

      How is a house divided in a UK divorce? For most people thinking about getting a divorce, one of the...

      Read more
    14. Prenup agreement and gavel

      Judge ignores pre-nuptial agreement but factors in non-matrimonial...

      Case Law One of the reasons I am still passionate about family law, after 20 years in the field, is that...

      Read more
    15. paths going separate ways

      What is a Separation Agreement?

      A separation agreement is a legally written document establishing the arrangements between you and your partner when you separate. It...

      Read more
    16. Family divorce and division of propert

      How to set aside an order in financial...

      My ex-spouse didn’t tell the truth about their finances when we divorced, can anything be done? Can the financial...

      Read more
    17. pension pot

      Pension sharing on divorce

      What is the new procedure for pension sharing? Pensions are one of the biggest assets of a marriage, yet many...

      Read more
    18. door knocker

      What is a transfer of equity?

      Transfer of equity in divorce Transfer of equity refers to the process of transferring part or all of a property...

      Read more
    19. people holding cups

      Do You Have To Go To Court For...

      If your divorce is uncontested and there are no disputes over issues such as what happens to the marital home...

      Read more
    20. Two keys with splitted key ring

      Capital Gains Tax on Divorce

      Proposed Capital Gains Tax Rule Changes Could Reduce Stress for Divorcing Couples The government has proposed a number of changes...

      Read more
    21. woman hand open empty purse

      My ex has cut me off during divorce

      Can my spouse cut me off financially? Unfortunately, it is far too common that when clients say it’s over,...

      Read more
    22. Close up of african american man with calculator

      Divorce Loans

      How the Court views loans from parents during divorce A frequent issue in financial divorce cases is a loan from...

      Read more
    23. mesher order house

      Mesher Orders Explained

      What is a Mesher order? A Mesher Order allows the sale of the family home to be postponed in the...

      Read more
    24. husband signing decree of divorce

      Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) for Divorce

      What is FDR for Divorce? Traditionally, a divorce financial settlement is dealt with by mutual agreement between the parties or...

      Read more