Almost a Fifth of Married Brits Prepared to ‘Bypass the Truth’ to Fast-track Divorce

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A recent survey carried out by leading national law firm Simpson Millar has revealed that around one in 20 married couples are prepared to lie in order to fast track divorce proceedings.

According to the poll, a staggering 52% did not realise that in some circumstances they needed their spouse’s consent to call time on the marriage; whilst 48% were unaware that a quick divorce – a divorce which was finalised in under two years - was only possible if blame was apportioned to one of the parties involved.

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The findings come amidst what has recently become dubbed ‘divorce month’, by many, with Divorce Solicitors reporting high numbers of enquiries fuelled as many couples look to start afresh in the new year.

But with current UK divorce law dictating that the only ground for divorce is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage which must be justified by just one of five facts - adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, separation of two years with the consent of both parties and separation of five years with the consent of one party – many could find themselves locked in a loveless marriage.

According to the survey almost half (48%) of participants were unaware of the restrictions regarding separation and apportioning blame surrounding divorce; prompting almost a fifth (17%) of them to say they would be prepared to lie or be lied about in court in order to speed up the divorce process.

A further 20% said they didn’t know what they would be prepared to do when push came to shove.

Furthermore, 22% considered lying during divorce proceedings to be no worse than missing a doctor’s appointment and 17% considered lying no worse than ‘pulling a sickie’, despite lying during court proceedings being classed as perjury, which carries a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment and/ or a fine if found guilty of Contempt of court.

According to Fiona Snowdon from Simpson Millar’s leading national family law team, the findings are the ‘perfect demonstration’ of the need for reform with the archaic divorce laws which have been in place for around 50 years ‘totally incompatible with the 21st century’.

Fiona, who is campaigning for the introduction of no fault divorce, explained: “There are two key concerns that have come to light as a result of this survey. First, that people are not clear on what the law is when it comes to getting divorced, and secondly that once made aware of the facts many would consider lying or being lied about, or at the very least bypassing the truth, in order to speed things up!  That cannot be right!

 “Many people in the UK are still under the impression that you can get a divorce if you simply fall out of love or drift apart from your partner, but this is not the case, you must justify to a Judge the reasons for the divorce.  So although you might decide that you want to get married, it is not solely your decision when you want to get divorced – the state will have its say.

“That’s going to be disheartening news for many people considering a separation when they realise they will have to air their dirty laundry on the divorce petition.  This may come after what has undoubtedly been a stressful festive period, but as tempting as it might be to lie on your application, it’s important to consider that lying during divorce proceedings could land you in a lot of hot water with the Judge or at the very least mean your application is rejected.

“What is more worrying is that if people are willing to lie on the Divorce Petition and they manage to get away with it, it does not bode well for the financial proceedings that must follow in order for the matrimonial finances to be split.

Fiona went on to add that a consultation on the introduction of no-fault divorce is being prepared by the government, which some hope will bring about much needed reform.

She continued: “A no-fault clause would bring the law up to date, and not least manage the bulk of the UK population’s expectations.

“Sadly this is still a long way off, and my personal view, and clearly the mood of the nation, is that the government should do all it can to bring this much needed reform forward.”

If you have recently separated or are considering a divorce and would like to speak to a Divorce Solicitor about legal advice and support, contact us today.

  • "The best way to manage the whole process is to get proper legal advice from a divorce solicitor who can guide you through and even help to keep things amicable with your ex"

    Fiona Snowdon

    Family Law Solicitor

Populus interviewed a Nationally Representative sample of 2,081 married UK adults aged 18+ from its online panel from the 17-18th December 2018. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. For more details go to

* Survey Information:

  • The survey was conducted on 1905 people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Scotland was omitted from the findings due to different grounds for divorce.  

National Statistics Data table:

Question % % % % %
Would you be prepared to lie or be lied about in court proceedings in order to 'fast track your divorce'?  Yes:
Total: 17
Men: 19
Women: 15
Total: 61 Men: 60
Women: 61
Don’t Know:
Total: 20
Men: 18
Women: 22
Prefer Not to say:
Total: 1
Men: 2
Women: 1
Is missing a Doctor’s appointment more or less serious than lying during the divorce process? More serious:
Less serious:
Don’t know:
Prefer not to say:
Is pulling a sickie from work more or less serious than lying during the divorce process? More serious:
Less serious:
Don’t know:
Prefer not to say:

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