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The lingering effects of the recession

A recent study has shown that couples worst affected by the recession are eight times as likely to suffer relationship breakdown. Recently obtained data has reveals how people in the UK have been affected by the economic downturn from 2009 to 2012.

People were placed into groups according to their current and future financial situation and assessed as to how their relationship fared in each group. The results of this study have shown that couples who have suffered negative impacts were also highly likely to have experienced deterioration in their relationship. It was also found that couples who had remained together and were in the worst affected groups had relatively poor relationship quality.

An earlier study carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that between the years of 2003 and 2009 there was a general downward trend in the number of divorces in England and Wales, but in 2010 the number of marital break-ups rose by 4.9%. In 2011, 117,558 couples decided to go their separate ways and this rose to 118,140 in 2012. In 2012, the average length of time that couples stayed married before officially separating was 11 and a half years.

It is clear from these figures that the recession has had a huge impact on couples and may well have contributed to a rise in relationship break-up as a result of increased financial strain, changes in employment and related lifestyle changes.

Although the number of people separating and divorcing has increased throughout the years of economic downturn, there are several reasons why the divorce rate may not be an accurate reflection. Firstly, if a couple is struggling financially, it is likely that they will put off a divorce simply to avoid expensive legal costs. This is particularly relevant since the abolition of Legal Aid in April 2013. It is likely, therefore, that the ecnutcrackeronomic crisis is responsible for the time lag between people separating and obtaining their divorce. People who are better off and own their own home and have other assets, are also delaying their divorces. It seems that people are waiting for the economic recovery to increase the value of their assets before signing the divorce papers.

Of course everybody’s situation is unique due to their own personal circumstances. We would always advise that if you find yourself in this situation, you should take early legal advice so that you can assess the prospect of divorce in light of your own personal circumstances. It is not always the case that waiting for asset recovery is in your best interests. In fact, putting off divorce indefinitely, wherever you are on the wealth scale, can put your finances at even more risk. If you would like to discuss these issues and receive expert family law legal advice, then please contact our divorce team on 0161 969 3131.