Simon Burge, Partner and head of the Family Team at Blake Morgan was recently quoted in The Telegraph’s article exploring “Why men are more likely to think about divorce than women”.
Simon was invited to comment on the findings of a survey published by Relate, a charity that provides relationship counselling services. This survey, which polled 2,033 adults, found that nearly a fifth of those in relationships have thought about the prospect of divorce or separation in 2023. Most interesting is that 25% of men said they had thought about this, compared to just 14% of woman who were asked the same question.
Based on these findings, one would expect that men are more likely to be the instigator of divorce proceedings. However, divorce data published by the Office for National Statistics found that amongst opposite-sex couples, women were the petitioners in an overwhelming 63.1% of cases.
Simon commented on the conflicting data and said the number of men “idly filling in an online survey” is not necessarily indicative of the number of men who apply for divorce.
It is one thing to answer an anonymous survey whilst day-dreaming about life with someone new (typical male behaviour) and quite another to sit down with a professional, bare one's heart and soul and admit to failure (women tend to be better at doing this).
It is an old saying that men tend to bury their heads in the sand, but when it comes to relationships this has a lot of truth in it. Whilst men may feel unfulfilled or discontent within their marriages, they rarely do anything about it unless they meet someone else who can offer them what they think is a better alternative.
“By contrast, women are better at facing up to the problems in their relationships and taking steps to address the situation, even if that means starting the process that leads up to the end of the marriage.
“So whilst a man might idly fill in an online survey and fantasise about moving on, it is usually the woman who makes up her mind (often in the context of a New Year’s resolution) to do something about it.”
Therefore, whilst men are more likely to contemplate divorce and starting a new life, the figures suggest that women are more likely to act on their thoughts of discontent and book a confidential appointment with a solicitor to seek advice about the divorce process and their legal rights in the marriage.
Divorce in 2023
Perhaps men’s alleged lack of action will be less relevant in the future since the passing of no-fault divorce back in April 2022. This allows separating couples to proceed with the divorce as joint applicants and encourages a more conciliatory approach than the old divorce system often termed the “blame game”.
Whether initiated by men or women, family lawyers are ready for a divorce surge in the early months of 2023. The surge is suspected to be caused by the financial stress and burden of the cost of living crisis and the emotional stress and pressures associated with the festive period.
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