Affairs no longer main cause of UK marriage breakdowns

IN years gone by the extramarital affair has been unrivaled in the UK as the prime reason for divorce. But in this postmodern age, it has been replaced by something more prosaic: falling out of love.

An annual survey on divorce has found that “growing apart/falling out of love” is the most common reason for a marriage breakdown, pushing the affair into second place for the first time, The (London) Times said.

Business and financial advisers, Grant Thornton, questioned more than 100 family lawyers at leading law firms. The extra-marital affair was named by 25 per cent of respondents as a reason for divorce, while 27 per cent cited “falling out of love”.

Louisa Plumb, associate director of Grant Thornton’s forensic and investigations services, said, “We are seeing an increasing number of celebrities putting up with alleged affairs in their marriage or relationship – with [model] Abbey Clancy staying with [EPL soccer star] Peter Crouch and [TV and music star] Cheryl Cole looking to go back to [EPL soccer star] Ashley [Cole].

“It may be that this is starting to have an effect on the behaviour of couples affected by extramarital affairs, with more marriages than before surviving a bout of infidelity.”

William Healing, family law partner at Kingsley Napley, said, “Infidelity may have fallen to reflect the fact that many couples, before plunging into a divorce, have paused to reflect during turbulent economic times. Some who first consulted lawyers early in the downturn but decided to cling on to their marriage are now pressing the button.”

But he added, “What remains shocking to many clients is that ‘irreconcilable differences’ is not a divorce option. Sadly we have to tell them if they want to divorce they have to allege fault.”

The survey, which draws on the experience of an estimated 1000 divorcing couples, also found that 58 per cent of lawyers have noticed a rise in prenuptial agreements – and most predict the rise to continue.

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