Typically, women are most likely to utter the phrase “I want a divorce”. However, the number of men who initiate divorce proceedings is still far behind that of women.
Surprisingly, the latest data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) indicates the tide is turning. In 2016, the ONS statistics revealed the state of divorce in the UK tracking the petitioners age, gender, sexuality and why they want to split.
It became clearly evident through data analysis that men were filing for divorce more than ever before.
Since the 1990s, there’s been a steady increase in the rate of men applying for divorce. In 1992, the percentage of divorces granted to men was at a mere 27.7%.
In subsequent years, this figure has gradually been creeping upwards.
The most common reason for divorce cited by heterosexual couples is “behavior” which makes it unreasonable to expect the petitioner to live with the respondent. This is given as the reason by 51% of women and 36% of men.
In same-sex marriages, the percentage is even higher as “behavior” accounts for 96% of male and 83% of female divorces. “Behavior” can cover a range of conduct from not being financially responsible to being verbally abusive.
As a reason for establishing the unrecoverable marriage breakdown, the condition can therefore prove to be too expansive and rather unhelpful in attempting to distinguish why men are filing for divorce more now than before.
Previously in the 1970s, “behavior” didn’t exist, instead parties could petition on the basis of “cruelty” but this was a tough bar to reach as it covered abuse and desertion. It wasn’t until the late ’70s that “behavior” was introduced.
Eventually, it soon became the most common reason for wives seeking to divorce their husbands. Past statistics show in the 1980s and 1990s, men most commonly petitioned “adultery” when seeking to divorce their partner.
However, since 2006 this has changed, with men now relying more on “behavior”. A possible explanation for this change may be a result of men becoming more open to discussing their feelings and thinking more about what they want from their relationships.
Usually, women were the parties most likely to be sensitive to relationship difficulties. Clearly, a shift has occurred.
Now men are beginning to alter their behavior and address their relationship issues directly. Furthermore, old clichés of husbands being financially taken advantage during the divorce proceedings have proven to be untrue; to such an extent men are now openly instigating proceedings.
A recent study from the University of Exeter has shown that, in fact, it’s women who suffer the most from divorce, especially in circumstances where their living standards change severely. Other revealing statistics from the ONS report reveal that for heterosexual couples, the rate of divorce was highest among men aged between 45 and 49 and for women the 30 to 39 age bracket.
Click to access the complete ONS report.