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11 Jun 2014

Family & Matrimonial

Debt problems increasingly leading to the breakdown of personal relationships.

The harsh economic slowdown has been having an impact on more than couples’ bank accounts with debt problems increasingly leading to the breakdown of personal relationships.

But a growing number of those that do make the difficult decision to break up are now being forced to stay living together because they cannot afford to run separate homes, says a leading South Wales family lawyer.

Ceri Price, Partner and head of FamilyFirst at HardingEvansSolicitors, said: “I have seen a sharp sea change in the past 12 months. I have dealt with numerous cases where previously high earning couples, enjoying a luxury lifestyle, have encountered enormous difficulty when trying to reach a settlement due to the high level of both secured and unsecured debt.”

And her views are mirrored by latest research from relationship guidance organisation Relate who say it is the first time they have seen this particular demographic of clients struggling with their finances to such an extent that moving into two homes and getting on with their lives has become an impossibility.

Ms Price believes that it can often be a vicious circle, with the pressure of debt acting as the trigger for nearly a quarter of all divorces – but those couples then being unable to properly separate for the same reason.

She added: “It is essential, in the context of a separation, to seek legal advice early on and to take any necessary steps to minimise the impact, such as protecting liquid assets. At the end of the day the Court will do everything it can to preserve the home for the children as a first priority, and then re-house the other party, but sometimes it is simply not practical. Advice from an experienced Family Practitioner gives the client the best chance of trying to overcome these difficulties”.

According to Relate it is ultimately couples with children who are the most likely to find themselves trapped than those without, but both groups are increasingly finding it impossible to bear the cost of setting up different homes.

Research into the experiences of Relate counsellors has shown that the economy is badly affecting the nation’s relationships. Almost half (47%) of the counsellors surveyed reported couples having to stay living together because they can’t afford to split up.

With 80% of counsellors seeing clients who cannot afford to finish or even properly start their counselling sessions, and couples suffering depression and ill health as the result of their money worries, couples and families need support more than ever.

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