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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

04 JUN 2009

A quarter of families arguing more due to the recession, according to Relate

A quarter (25%) of families admit to arguing more because of the recession, new figures from Relate, the UK's largest provider of relationship counselling have revealed.

The YouGov survey commissioned by Relate also showed that men are twice as likely as women (nearly one in 10 compared to one in 20) to be concerned that money worries will cause them to break up with their partner. A further one in five (22%) of couples felt they were arguing more because of money worries.

Across the country 66% of Relate Centres have seen an increase in demand for their services as clients feel the impact on the recession.

These figures come within the same month as Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families announced that Relate would receive £1 million over the next two years to fund extra counselling and relationship support for couples and families who may have been affected by the recession.

Claire Tyler, Chief Executive, Relate said: "These figures confirm what we have been seeing in our centres that financial worries can have a big impact on family life. Families need to know that talking can help, in fact talking sooner rather than when things get to a crisis point can save families a lot of heartache. Relate is helping many couples and families who are finding that money worries are the final straw."

Government figures estimate the direct cost to the public purse of relationship breakdown as being an estimated £5 billion, including housing costs, benefits and unemployment. Indirect costs, when taking into account poorer outcomes in areas such as children and adult health, have been estimated at £24 billion.

Angela Davis, specialist family lawyer in the private client team at Nottingham law firm Berryman commented: "In the early part of the recession, there appeared to be a slow down in the number of couples actually seeking a divorce, doubtless due to finances being squeezed anyway in the downturn and a reluctance to find the money for a divorce. Indeed, many couples wishing to go their separate ways have been forced to live apart, but under the same roof, compounded by the lack of movement in the housing market.

"Such a testing way of living for the couples involved will undoubtedly have put a strain on them, and with this strain of having to remain sharing a home with someone you don't wish to stay married to, let alone live with, combined with money worries, will have inevitably led to a rise in the number of arguments between them. It is only a matter of time until this difficult living arrangement becomes untenable and unendurable, and we are certainly already seeing the signs as more couples are coming to us looking to start divorce proceedings. So, there's likely to have been an increase in the number of families arguing in the recession and in turn, be a rise in the number of divorces over the coming months.

"People have reached breaking point and despite the slowdown in the property market, couples have decided they can't live like this any longer, so are deciding to bite the bullet and find the money to cover the legal costs of the divorce they now desperately want."

Fiona O'Sullivan, Partner in the Family Law team of Midlands law firm Challinors commented: "The financial strains on families brought about by the recession can unfortunately be the 'straw that breaks the camels back' when a family relationship is already in difficulties for other reasons.

"The Family Team at Challinors did notice a reduction in new cases in the first months of the recession because of the obvious difficulties of funding the legal costs. However as the consequences of the recession continue to hit all households across the country the unhappiness inflicted (typically on children living in an unhappy household) means that people are now deciding to take advice on the best way forward"

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