London has been known as the ‘divorce capital of Europe’ for many years. The divorce business is booming, and January seems to be the busiest time of year for solicitors. The Christmas holidays for many married couples begin with major rows and end in January with a phone call to the divorce solicitors in London.
Weddings, on the other hand, have decreased by almost 45% since their peak in 1972. For every 2 marriages in 2008 for example, there was one divorce. Couples in their 20′s are the most likely group to divorce, as celebrity culture encourages a rise in marriages that end within 5 years. Our society places increasingly greater importance on personal ambition and choice than on life-long marriage, and consequently, couples are investing less time in the health of their marriage, leading to inevitable breakdown of the relationship. Fewer couples are now choosing to marry than in past generations, more children than ever being born to unmarried parents. However, divorce is a costly formality, as many people will attest to. Before the 1857 Matrimonial Causes Act was passed allowing ordinary people to divorce, it was a formality mainly open exclusively to men. Divorce before 1857 required an Act of Parliament, which was very expensive and a price of solicitors only the rich were able to afford.
The new law was also unfair to women, as they were required to prove not only their husbands were unfaithful, but also other faults of various levels of abuse. This law remained largely unchanged until 1969 with the passing of the Divorce Reform Act, which stated that a marriage could be ended if it had broken down irretrievably and neither spouse was required to prove any unfaithfulness or faults in order to obtain a divorce. But the reason why South East London has become a divorce haven in recent years is due to the fact that whether for short term or long term marriage, UK divorce law allows equal division of the assets. This means that if a woman were married to a rich banker for example, she will be awarded 50% of his assets upon divorce. UK judges do begin with a starting point of a 50-50 split but they do acknowledge that women in short term marriages ideally should not be awarded assets in the same way as women in long term marriages.read more