Divorce is the most stressful experience that most people will ever encounter. Over the years, studies have shown that the stress of divorce, together with resulting implications for any children from the marriage, property and finance, compromises the immune system and puts anyone dissolving a marriage at risk of illness and disease.
Current UK divorce law is about to be reviewed and overhauled to enable couples to divorce faster and in a less aggressive manner through a ‘no blame split’. Currently in England and Wales, in order for divorce to begin, one spouse has to allege adultery or unreasonable behaviour by the other. In future, couples will only have to state that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The new laws will also prevent one partner from refusing a divorce if the other wants one.
It was disturbing to read this week that the Canary Islands is second highest region in all of Spain for the number of marital breakdowns. In 2018, the Supreme Court of Justice registered 15 separations per day.
It is only Valencia that surpassed these shocking statistics, whilst the community of Castilla y León appears to be the area with the highest rate of wedded bliss, recorded at the bottom of this troubling league table. In total, in 2018, the Canary Islands recorded 5686 claims for marriage nullity, separation and both consensual and non-consensual divorce.
These bland figures disguise a range of reasons for marital breakdowns. Despite many observers and holiday makers looking enviously at the Canarian lifestyle, all is not what it seems for local people.
These islands suffer from one of the worst unemployment figures in Spain, with around 38 per cent of those aged between 20 and 29 years old out of work. Temporary contracts for those who are employed blight the islands’ labour market, particularly among the young, women, immigrants and low skilled workers, which all adds to the stress within any long-term relationship.
Levels of poverty remain high in the islands too, and many young couples continue to live with their parents, since they are unable to buy or rent a home of their own. Current data show that over 53 per cent of people between the ages of 25 and 29 in Spain are still living with their parents, and this figure is even higher in the Canary Islands.
There is a low proportion of rented property available in the islands and, as elsewhere in Spain, there has been a sharp rise in housing prices, which has placed most properties out of the reach of young couples.
It should also be remembered that in Spain and the Canary Islands, it is often regarded as traditional for young couples to live with their parents and, indeed grandparents, in order to provide the care that older family members need as they get older. It used to be seen as an obligation, but now this tradition often clashes with the desire for independence from parents, and some claim that this is one of the many reasons behind the high levels of divorce and separation.
Looking more closely at the statistics, it is interesting to also note that despite Castilla y León being the community that offers the highest rate of wedded bliss, it is also the area with the highest percentage of single person households in Spain…
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© Barrie Mahoney