Contrite Spouses Speeding Up One-Tenth of Divorces 

Published on 25 September, 2017 | Back to News/Press

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More than 10 per cent of divorces involve husbands and wives reaching generous settlement with spouses because they are racked with guilt about their marital misbehaviour.

One of the country’s leading family law firms has reported that whilst most couples are keen to be fair when it comes to dividing their assets, individuals whose affairs had ended marriages were likely to more accommodating.

Abigail Lowther, an Associate Solicitor with Hall Brown Family Law, explained that some wronged spouses regarded discussions about joint finances as a means of exacting “revenge”.

She added that a number of those who had shown contrition in splitting up cash and property later sought advice about how they might revise terms of their settlement, worried that they may have been too generous.

“Looking over our cases, we have been struck by the degree to which guilt is a determining factor both in the speed with which discussions about the division of marital assets are concluded and the details of how that is accomplished.

“Whilst divorce is never an entirely pleasant experience, regardless of how amicable a couple is, most spouses want to be fair to each other and part on relatively good terms.

“What is very noticeable is just how much more generous individuals are when a marriage ends because of their conduct rather than due to their simply growing apart.

“The majority of such cases are sexual in nature. It would appear that the guilt involved in being discovered to have had one or more affairs is such that it leads some to be especially accommodating.

“There are spouses who are equally so enraged at being cheated on that they almost try and settle the score by pushing for the greatest share of assets possible. They seize the moral high ground and see the financial element of divorce as a way of securing a revenge of sorts.

“Regardless of who might have arguably have contributed to the circumstances resulting in divorce, we always insist that spouses detach themselves from their emotions.

“That is not always possible, though, and a proportion of those who make generous settlements contact us a year or two after their divorces believing that they may have made a mistake in giving their exes too large a share of assets.”

Ms Lowther described how Hall Brown had handled in excess of 260 divorces over the course of the last year.

She said that, in one case, a husband was so distressed by having lost his temper and slapping his wife that he allowed her to determine the financial terms on which they separated.

In another matter, a female politician who had been unfaithful left her lengthy marriage with less than five per cent of the assets which she jointly owned with her ex-husband.

Ms Lowther pointed out that although many husbands used settlements to “recompense” their former wives for their adultery, other men were more “dismissive”.

“They may not simply have had fleeting affairs but, in fact, have found partners with whom they want to pursue lasting relationships.

“To them, the financial settlement is a necessary administrative hurdle which they want to clear as swiftly as they can.

“Being generous is one way in which they can reduce possible friction and delay with their spouses and move on with the rest of their lives.

“Even so, they sometimes fail to include all the essential elements which can inflate the size of a settlement and are, therefore, surprised at how expensive it can be to do what they regard as ‘the right thing’.”

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