Whilst there are some marriages which break apart in a welter of recrimination and unpleasantness, the vast majority are resolved in more peaceful circumstances. Instead of being daggers drawn with their ex-spouse, most husbands and wives find it possible to maintain good relations long after they have started new lives apart. In my opinion, it seems that to them concluding a divorce is not just adding signatures to a line in a legal document but drawing a line under whatever tensions caused a marriage to collapse. There are some individuals, however, who want to leave the pressures behind but cannot bring themselves to formally bring marriages to a close. Take the celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, for example. Media reports in the last few days have seized upon his admission that, although estranged from his wife for the past six years, they are yet to divorce (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3486910/Heston-Blumenthal-wed-six-years-split-wife-Zanna.html). It is a situation which is relatively uncommon, even allowing for the degree to which the last couple of decades have radically altered our perceptions of how Britons live together or leave each other. Reporters have referred to “complicated business reasons” as being to blame in the case of Mr and Mrs Blumenthal. However, I would suggest that people finding themselves in similar circumstances might find it more “complicated” the longer that a period of divorce-free estrangement continues. Myself and my colleagues in JMW’s Family team have encountered spouses who avoided divorce for a number of very different reasons. Some accepted that their marriages were effectively over but simply didn’t believe in divorce, while others did but still couldn’t bring themselves to go through with what they feared might be an emotionally trying experience. There have even been some for whom putting a legal full-stop to their marriage became less and less of a priority the more time elapsed. It is worth noting, though, that we only became aware of their predicaments when complications arose which tested and even broke their goodwill for each other. Informal agreements about money can be jeopardised if, for instance, one spouse has devoted themselves to and developed a family business. When such an asset accrues in value, their exes argue, is it not right that two people who are still legally tied benefit, even if they had decided on a lesser settlement? Just as personal wealth can increase over time, serious illness can leave some spouses less well off and far more eager to secure their futures than they might have been only a few years before. Spouses are realistic and mature enough to both accept having reached a fork in the marital road with mutual respect, so one would hope that they can handle the administration of separation in the same manner. Sadly, divorce is as much a reality of relationships as courtship, cohabitation or exchanging vows. It is necessary to grasp that point in order to avoid cooking up something of a mess should lasting happiness prove elusive.