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Rise of the 'body clock divorce' as couples fall out over children:

Rise of the 'body clock divorce' as couples fall out over children: One in ten break-ups now thought to involve a wife who believes her years of fertility are running out

1 July 2016

- Career women become frustrated when husbands refuse to start a family
- This has led to wave of 'body clock divorces', leading family law firm said
- Divorces feature wives anxious to find a partner willing to support a family
- Comes as older women more concerned about chances of having a baby

Arguments between husbands and wives over whether to have children have led to a wave of 'body clock divorces', lawyers said yesterday.

Marriage break-ups are increasingly a result of the frustration felt by successful career women when their husbands refuse to start a family, they claimed.

As many as one in ten divorces now involve a wife who believes her years of fertility are running out and who is anxious to find a partner willing to support a family, according to the analysis by a leading family law firm.

The identification of 'body clock divorce' comes at a time of growing strain on marriages of older couples and evidence that women in their 30s and early 40s are increasingly concerned about their chances of having children and building a family.

Pregnancy rates among older women are rising at unprecedented speed. In 2014, women over 35 were more likely to give birth than under-25s.

At the same time abortion rates among older women have been going up quickly, and some analysts believe a cause is that older women are likely to become pregnant to test the enthusiasm of their male partner for having a child.

The family law firm JMW Solicitors said yesterday that unfulfilled ambition for babies is now contributing to one in ten divorces.

Lawyer Holly Tootill said: 'Some of our clients have begun their marriages with the firm intention of having children soon afterwards, only for career ambitions to cause that desire to be put on hold. However, many women's willingness to resolve the matter only seems to grow more acute as the years pass.'

She added: 'Where a husband is much older and perhaps has one eye on the impact of a baby on a possible retirement, the likelihood of disagreement is multiplied. In our experience, that is particularly true if he already has children from a previous relationship.

'A number of women have told us that they had become aware of the ticking of their body clock and, in cases where their husbands had developed a resistance to starting a family, they expressed a compulsion to divorce and find someone more favourable to the idea.

'We have even heard allegations of women deliberately not using contraception in an effort to overcome their husbands' objections by getting pregnant.'

The firm said that more than a fifth of the 300 divorces it deals with each year involve couples with an age gap of at least seven years, and that one in seven of all marriages in England and Wales are between a couple with an age difference greater than ten years.

In January TV presenter Gary Lineker and his wife Danielle Bux announced the end of their six-year marriage. The reason was said to be that the former footballer was unwilling to have children with Miss Bux.

Lineker, 55, was divorced from his first wife Michelle in 2006 after a 20-year marriage and four sons. Just over three years later he married Miss Bux, a former lingerie model, who is 19 years his junior.

Miss Bux has a teenage daughter from an earlier relationship but was said to be 'desperate' to have more children, but in interviews Lineker had expressed severe doubts.

The ages at which couples marry, and the age at which a woman is likely to have a baby, have both been going up over the past 20 years. The pressure for older family formation has followed the historic movement of a high proportion of girls into higher education and well-paid careers.

However, at the same time high housing prices, which demand that both of a couple must work in order to meet a mortgage, and the spread of cohabitating relationships, which are less reliable than marriages and which rarely include a mutual commitment to having children, have put pressure on women hoping to have families.

Around one in five women now reach the age of 45, regarded as the point where fertility is at an end, without having children.

Miss Tootill said that attitudes to having children can prove a fundamental difference between marriage partners.

'It can represent such a significant obstacle that spouses feel almost unable to compromise and that, sadly, results in many going their separate ways,' she said.

'Some try to avoid dispute by trying not to mention the subject at all, but putting the discussion off doesn't make it disappear altogether.'

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
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