Research carried by UK online divorce company has found that during the key part of the UK national lockdown, nearly 1 in 4 behaviour-based divorce petitions prepared by the company mentioned alcohol abuse as a key reason for the divorce being filed.

The company prepared 700 unreasonable behaviour petitions between 16th March and 31st August 2020 and 180 mentioned drinking or alcohol abuse.

The next most common reasons were lack of communication/interaction and a lack of support with children and housework.

A spokesperson for the company said, ”We’ve seen addiction to alcohol and drugs among other things mentioned in divorce petitions before as the reason for the marriage breakdowns. In this regard, it’s nothing new. However, the increase in the number of Petitioners mentioning their spouse’s drinking has increased above and beyond any other reasons”. 

Alcohol Behaviour Petitions UK Lockdown

The number of behaviour petitions filed each month during ‘Lockdown’ mentioning alcohol abuse/drinking.

How does this compare to 2019?

During the same period of 2019, there were only 100 mentions of alcohol/excessive drinking as the reason for the marriage breakdown from 600 petitions handled by Divorce-Online.

This shows that in 2019 alcohol/drinking accounted for 1 in 6 behaviour petitions we handled vs 1 in 4 in 2020.

Alcohol Consumption Studies During The UK’s Lockdown

There have been many studies done on alcohol consumption during the lockdown period. Here are the main key points to take from the survey conducted by

  1. 28% of people surveyed agreed that they have drunk more alcohol than usual during the lockdown period in the UK.
  2. People in work were more likely to agree that they had been drinking more than non-working people.
  3. 32% of 35-54 year old admitted to drinking more than before the lockdown.

Another study, this time published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, which was led by the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Health also found that levels of binge drinking had increased.

The research was based on data from over 27,000 individuals.

Binge drinking increased from 10.8% in 2017-19 to 16.2% during the UK’s lockdown, as did the proportion of people reporting drinking four or more times a week (13.7% to 22.0%)


The increase in marriage breakdowns due to alcohol has outweighed any other reason for divorce.

Even in the digital age with gaming addictions, alcohol seems to be the biggest factor in marriage breakdowns compared with all other reasons.

Our study shows that alcohol use and abuse has risen sharply during the UK’s lockdown, which is in line with other recent major studies.

This post was written by Mark Keenan. Editor of the Divorce Online Blog and Managing Director of Online Legal Service Ltd. Mark has been writing about divorce and related subjects for over 20+ years and is an expert in legal marketing.

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