Excessive drinking by wives is contributing to as many as one in seven divorces. PICTURE: Supplied

Excessive drinking by wives is contributing to as many as one in seven divorces.

While overall divorce rates are falling, the number granted to husbands on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour by the wife has tripled since 1980 – and many cases involve alcohol abuse, a law firm said yesterday. Hall Brown said a major factor is wives drinking at work. The warning comes amid growing concern over women generally drinking more.

The most recent divorce figures for England and Wales, from 2014, show 47 per cent of 111,169 divorces were for unreasonable behaviour, which can cover a wide range of disputes. Of these, 15,630 were because of wives’ unreasonable behaviour and 36,908 were husbands. This means unreasonable behaviour by women accounted for 14 per cent of divorces.

There were just over 4,000 of such complaints about wives in 1980, and 10,000 in 1993. Lawyer Laura Gullion said many cases involve women’s drinking, adding: ‘Men are more likely to be accused of having an alcohol problem but the frequency with which wives’ drinking has been cited over the last few years is marked.

‘It is unusual to find alcohol as the only issue causing couples to part, but it can be one of those factors with a corrosive effect.’ She said in quite a few cases husbands said their wives drank with work, such as taking lunches with colleagues or networking with clients.

Miss Gullion said reasons wives’ drinking can lead to divorce include the effect on children. In one case, she said, a husband was tired of making excuses for a wife who repeatedly passed out at home.

But Harry Benson, of the Marriage Foundation, said: ‘Heavy drinking among women is likely to be a consequence of unattentive behaviour by men. It is often a product of unhappiness rather than a cause. It then becomes easy for a man to write it into the divorce.’

There are two other grounds for quick divorce: adultery and desertion. Divorce can also be granted after two years’ separation where both agree, or after five if one party disagrees.

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