A specialist family court lawyer has called for the urgent introduction of "no fault" divorce.

Ayesha Vardag, founder of law firm Vardags, said the pain and distress caused by protracted divorce proceedings was unacceptable in modern society.

She was speaking after research suggested that married people who had heart attacks were more likely to survive that single people.

"The pain and distress caused by bitter, protracted divorces is unacceptable in a modern society," she said.

"The tragic consequence of a cruel, blaming divorce is often that one loses not only a sexual partner but also a dear friend and supportive companion or co-parent.

"The answer is not to imprison unhappy or ill-suited people in their marriages but to urgently facilitate a less acrimonious, no fault, more financially straightforward divorce, coupled with better access to counselling ... to help those dealing with depression or anxiety about the end of the relationship.

"Emotional pain, however it arrives, hits us as human beings very hard. We need to take the anger out of the equation and look after each other, even our ex-partners, and thereby enable caring and supportive extended family units to survive divorce."

A recent report by academics at Aston University said marriage was a "vital factor" affecting the survival of patients who have had a heart attack.

Aston Medical School researchers said a study showed that married heart attack patients were 14% more likely to survive than those who were single.