Cost of living crisis puts pressure on divorcing couples to resolve their finances against a backdrop of spiralling costs and uncertainty

by | Aug 3, 2022

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Stowe Family Law reveal that over half of UK couples feel friction in their relationships (55%) because of the cost of living crisis, while 70% fear their relationship won’t survive the crisis. 

The UK’s largest family law firm has conducted a survey to examine how the cost of living crisis is impacting relationships and marriages across the UK, to better understand the knock-on effects it is having on families.

Enquiries at Stowe are at an all time high, and financial woes are the driving force behind a large majority of them. The main reason for the cost of living crisis causing friction in a romantic relationship was ‘not enough money coming in’ and ‘not enough money to pay the bills’, each taking 25% of the vote. Meanwhile, 18% said they have ‘different financial priorities’, meaning couples are struggling to agree on what to apportion their limited finances to, while 17% responded they are worried about not being able to maintain their current lifestyle.

“It is not too difficult to see how tensions in relationships might arise here”, says Amanda Phillips-Wylds, Managing Partner at Stowe Family Law, the firm that conducted the survey. “We often find financial tension cited as the reason behind a divorce enquiry, particularly where a person feels their current lifestyle can no longer be maintained. 

 
 

Now that we are in August – a month often spent on holiday and spending some hard-earned disposable income – the reality that many couples can’t afford to take a proper break and go abroad is causing a lot of friction.”

She continues, “For those couples who decide to separate, they face the challenge of resolving their finances against a backdrop of spiralling costs and uncertainty. This is putting even more pressure on couples when looking at how to divide assets and plan effectively for financial security in the future. 

For those cases that end up in the family court, the main priority is the needs of both parties, with the welfare of any children paramount. When assets are limited, this becomes more challenging, and the definition of people’s needs will need to become more conversative.”

 
 

Another worrying impact of the cost of living on relationships highlighted by the survey was the revelation that a quarter of respondents feel trapped in their relationship because they cannot afford to go their separate ways.

Amanda explains, “It is very concerning that a quarter of the people we polled feel trapped in unhappy relationships, particularly those who may be trapped in abusive relationships. Unfortunately, increased financial pressure can act as a trigger for abusive partners, and means their victims cannot afford to leave the home. We must be mindful of this now more than ever, at a time when the cost of living crisis is too big a deterrent for so many people who no longer wish to remain in their romantic relationship. It is important for people to consider their options, and whilst the feeling of being trapped is all too real, there are ways out. The first step is seeking advice, either professionally or from a trusted friend or family member.”

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