The Blog

I Love you, but I'm not in Love With you

A recent survey has revealed that a large percentage of people are citing growing apart or falling out of love as the reason for their divorce. It's the first time that extra marital affairs haven't topped the list.

A recent survey has revealed that a large percentage of people are citing growing apart or falling out of love as the reason for their divorce. It's the first time that extra marital affairs haven't topped the list.

This survey squares with that what I'm seeing as a divorce lawyer. When people come and see me they often say "there has been infidelity but that's not really what's behind this, it's just that we really don't get along any more, we're not attracted to each other, we have nothing in common", etc.

We all remember that chilling "I love you but I'm not in love with you" break-up line from boy-friend/girl-friend days - well, rightly or wrongly, people who feel that way are acting upon it on the basis that life's too short to spend it with the wrong person.

In England we do not have a 'no fault' divorce. People cannot just say, "Okay, we have irreconcilable differences". They need to go through the process of stating, on the record, something critical of one or other of them, unless they are able to wait for two years separation.

I am therefore often drafting petitions on the basis of unreasonable behaviour on relatively inoffensive charges like, "he became emotionally distant", or "she was rude about my mother", as this is seen as the most consensual, least confrontational way you can actually have a divorce now.

It's still a huge shame, however, that couples who bear each other no ill at the point of deciding to separate will have to go through the unhappy process of generating some on paper to get divorced.

Divorce is still relatively easy to obtain, however, and some wonder whether this has made people less willing to make a go of marriage when it hits the rocks. In my experience people don't make the decision to get divorced lightly, even when it's prompted by the end of love or attraction rather than by violence or betrayal.

As a family lawyer with a real eye to try and avoid conflict and unpleasantness in family, especially where children are involved, I would welcome an easier divorce process where parting couples are able to move forward without a costly and potentially acrimonious split.

People often fight about finances and sometimes about children, but there seems no reason to have to spend a lot of money and cause each other misery just to go through the process of parting legally once the decision has been made.

Every drop of acrimony can contaminate a future relationship which has to be friendly and cooperative for the sake of the children, who need to be co-parented even if they have that in two homes rather than one. So an end to compulsory mud-slinging in divorce would be a huge improvement.

Better to say, like the poet Drayton, "Since there's no help, so let us kiss and part".

--- Ayesha Vardag is Britain's top divorce lawyer and is Managing Director of Vardags, based in London ---