This site uses cookies, your continued use implies you agree with our cookie policy.

Top 5 Causes of Divorce and Separation in the UK

Top 5 Causes of Divorce and Separation in the UK

When divorce is sought a valid reason is required in order to legally terminate the marriage. Sadly, getting a divorce isn’t a simple process and couples often encounter troubles – both financial and emotional – while procedures are taking place.

It can take many months or sometimes even years for a divorce to finalise depending on the motive and how the estate it split. This list provides a breakdown on the top five reasons for divorce in the UK.


While adultery is certainly a valid motive for divorce, but if the divorce isn’t filed within 6 months of the applicant discovering their spouse’s adulterous behaviour, then it’s no longer valid. According to MSN Living, adultery is the most common motive for divorce in the UK with 55 percent of all divorcees stating it contributed to their breakup.

Lack of Preparation

Like any other major decision in life – buying a house, having children, etc – marriage requires a great deal of thought and preparation. There's a lot more to marriage than romance and passion, and many couples will jump into marriage before they are financially or emotionally ready. Couples often marry while they’re still in the ‘honeymoon phase’, and then begin to feel overwhelmed and consumed when the fire starts burning out. This can lead to arguing, instability and general unhappiness. Marriage is a legal procedure as much as it is a representation of companionship.

Excessive Arguing

Excessive arguing is highly destructive. In most circumstances it’s due to a lack of understanding or appreciation. These reasons alone are not enough to legally grant a divorce; however, they will often lead to other, more serious issues. For example, couples who are unhappy in their relationship and don’t get along are more prone to committing adultery or other unreasonable behaviour.

Unreasonable Behaviour

From a legal point of view, "unreasonable behaviour" is considered to be heavy drinking, drug taking, physical abuse and verbal assault. Unreasonable behaviour is always viable grounds for divorce and is usually quicker to resolve due to the emotional and physical damage it can cause. In addition, those who seek divorce due to violence will often be entitled to some form of compensation if they can provide adequate proof.

Lack of Equality

Over 44% of all divorcees state that lack of equality was a contributing factor to their split. This occurs when one person feels as though they are taking on most of the work, either earning or housework/childcare. Sadly, there is still a significant level of gender inequality in society, which can heavily contribute. For example, men often feel like they’re providing, while women often feel trapped and depressed at losing their independence.

Money is often a focal point for arguments in marriage, and when children are involved these arguments can be volatile. One way some parents keep their children’s financial matters arranged is by way of a trust fund. Find out more about Trusts.

It’s common for couples to go through rough periods and in most circumstances discussing problems, listening and making an effort to change (on both sides) is all that’s required to get through them. That said, sometimes problems are, quite simply, impossible to solve. Fundamentally, the decision to marry should never be taken lightly.

Divorce can be both time consuming and costly. If you are thinking about instigating divorce procedures you must take the necessary precautions and prepare yourself, both emotionally and financially. Read more about the Process of getting a divorce.

We love this list of really helpful divorce questions from SA Law. Go and have a look!

< Back to Legal