Top Family Lawyer comments on annual marriage/divorce survey

According to law firm Grant Thornton's latest annual matrimonial survey, women are still significantly more likely to petition for divorce, with 59% of family lawyers surveyed reporting a majority of applications from wives.

The report goes on to cite survey results of 1% of respondents reporting that husbands had been the primary petitioner for divorce in the past year, whilst 40% said that it was equal between husbands and wives.

It added that growing apart or falling out of love remained the most common reason for divorce for the second year running (25%) with infidelity running a close second (24%).

Their survey results also revealed that, on average, wives received more than half of the matrimonial assets in 62% of the cases compared to just 6% of husbands. However, whilst wives may be getting a bigger share, there is less to go about. 35% of the respondents stated that the average value of the total family assets distributed was less than £500,000 compared to just 18% of respondents two years ago.

Leading London lawyer, Deborah Jeff, Head of Family at Seddons solicitors, comments:

"While it’s true that growing apart and infidelity are the most common reasons cited for divorce, couples grow apart for a whole range of reasons.  Often these are incited in an 'unreasonable behaviour' petition if they want to divorce immediately and neither has committed adultery.

"The recession has had some impact on the divorce rate but there are also couples who would much rather divorce now rather than ride out the recession as the daily reality of living in an unhappy marriage takes its toll.  This can often lead to a powder-cegg situation at the family home and a once-amicable separation becoming very acrimonious. 

"People tend to think that huge divorce pay-outs are normal because of what’s reported in the press but in most families there is often not enough capital to house both spouses separately to the same standard as during the marriage once they have divorced.  In those circumstances, the wife can receive more capital than the husband in order to house the children of the family so that their essential needs are met.

"We are also seeing financial settlements being structured differently because of the recession so that spouses share the risk-laden assets.  Previously, a husband may for example take all the shares in the family business and the wife take the copper-bottomed assets.  But with share prices being so volatile, settlements now tend to be structured to share risk in order that one party doesn’t lose the majority of their settlement if share prices fall." 

Seddons (http://www.seddons.co.uk/) is a 20-year-old central London law firm (based at 5 Portman Square) with a total of over 70 staff, including 19 partners.

Chambers notes ‘This team offers clients the full range of family services, and is particularly noted for its expertise on divorce proceedings’ and the Legal 500 says 'Deborah Jeff provides an excellent level of service at Seddons'.