Divorce is Contagious, According to Recent Survey

Marriages are more likely to fail if an immediate friend or colleague files for divorce, figures have revealed.

Statistics show that relationship breakdowns within friendship circles can often cause a chain reaction – a process that’s been dubbed ‘divorce clustering’.

The survey of 500 people revealed that 42 per cent of those asked know two or more friends who have divorced in quick succession, with 62 per cent of friends divorcing less than two years apart.

The research – carried out by top tier legal 500 listed law firm, Myerson – has examined the effect of divorce among peer groups and an individual’s own risk of separation, revealing a distinct process of what scientists have previously labelled ‘social contagion’.

Jane Tenquist, head of family law at Myerson, commented: “Divorces that occur quickly after marriage, and at a young age, can be down to a number of factors. Often, couples are heavily influenced by the media and social pressures to have that fairy tale wedding. Rather than marriage being recognised as a lifelong commitment, it’s seen as an experience to be publicised. Consequently, the immense anticipation of a wedding can distract a couple from the day-to-day reality of marriage.

“Sociologists state that people become friends with those who share a similar system of values and morals. Therefore, if a close friend chooses to divorce, individuals naturally begin to study their own relationships and often, cracks start to appear.”

According to ONS statistics, the largest number of marriages in the United Kingdom are amongst men and women between the ages of 25 and 29. The most common members of so-called ‘divorce clusters’ are women aged between 26 and 35.

In the UK, 50 per cent of marriages end in divorce within the first 10 years of marriage, with 13 divorces granted per hour in England and Wales. One in seven divorces in the UK is as a result of adultery.


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