Causes of Divorce

The main causes of Legal Divorce in 2004 (2003) were:

  • Extra-Marital affairs (adultery) – 27% (29%)
  • Family strains – 18% (11%)
  • Emotional/physical abuse – 17% (10%)
  • Mid-life crisis – 13% (not in 2003 survey)
  • Addictions e.g. alcoholism and gambling – 6% (5%)
  • Workaholism – 6% (5%)

Facts about Legal Divorce

Regarding extra-marital affairs men engaged in them in 75% (55%) of cases; women in 25% (45%).


In cases of family strain it was women’s families in 78% of cases who were the cause compared to 22% of men’s.


Emotional/physical abuse was more evenly split with women affected in 60% and men in 40% of cases.


In 70% of workaholism-related legal divorces it was men who were the cause and 30% women.


The 2004 survey found that in 93% of cases divorces were petitioned by women very few of which were contested.


53% of divorces tended to occur in marriages which had lasted between 10 and 15 years with 40% ending between 5 and 10 years. The first 5 years tend to be divorce-free and if a marriage survives more than 20 years it is unlikely to end in divorce.

Regarding Legal Divorce Settlements women obtained a better or considerably better settlement than men in 60% of cases. In 30% of cases the assets were split 50-50 and in only 10% of cases did men achieve better legal settlements. (down from 24% the previous year).


The 2004 report concluded that in order for more equitable splits to occur in future it will be down to the success of campaigns like that of Fathers 4 Justice to ensure that a greater proportion of divorcing couples are granted shared residence orders for their children.