More 'willing to forgive spouse'
More people in Northern Ireland are now willing to forgive their spouse's infidelity rather than seek a divorce, new research has claimed.
Break-ups which cite an extramarital affair as the primary cause have dropped to their lowest level in eight years, and have been overtaken by couples stating they have simply fallen out of love, a survey of solicitors found.
One of the reasons for the shift may be the growing number of high profile celebrities that have publicly accepted their partner being unfaithful, according to consultancy and accountancy firm Grant Thornton, which carried out the matrimonial survey.
Only 19% of lawyers in Northern Ireland viewed extramarital affairs as the top reason for divorce, with 29% claiming the main cause was couples growing apart.
Sally Longworth, partner at Grant Thornton's Forensic and Investigations services practice, said: "The shift in the reasons for divorce is difficult to explain, although one potential influence could be the rise in the number of celebrities that are very publicly accepting their spouse's infidelities.
"Whatever the cause, it is interesting to note that it appears that more relationships than ever that are affected by infidelity are surviving."
The company's eighth annual survey, which questions solicitors across the UK, also suggested more resistance in Northern Ireland to extending legal rights afforded to married people to cohabiting couples.
A sizeable 83% of Northern Irish solicitors said they were against the move, compared with 60% throughout the UK.
Ms Longworth said: "The solicitors we polled in Northern Ireland, of all the UK regions, were the most overwhelmingly against cohabiting couples being entitled to the legal rights afforded to those who are married.
"Marriage in the six counties remains popular and there persists a perception that it should be recognised with legal rights not afforded to those in Northern Ireland in other relationship forms."