The Effect of the Recession on Divorce


30 July, 2010

Money worries and financial difficulties are very often cited as an initiating or significant contributing factor in marriage breakdown. Whilst it has often been reported that divorce rates significantly increase during times of recession, the tightening of the family purse strings can also have an opposite effect on the decision to separate or to commence divorce proceedings. Parties in an unhappy marriage are frequently faced with the grim prospect of not being able to be financially independent whilst maintaining a reasonable standard of living in a situation where the joint pot is already stretched in providing for the one household. It can be a very difficult decision to balance the emotional advantages of leaving an unhappy marriage, with the negative consequences that can have on financial stability or standard of living.

Further problems can be experienced when trying to reach agreements in relation to matrimonial assets. With house prices having declined drastically during the recession, many couples now find that their home has little or in some cases negative equity. Consequently, even when an agreement between the parties to transfer the matrimonial home into one spouse's sole name has been reached, mortgage companies may be unwilling to release one of the parties from their contractual obligations under the terms of the mortgage in the current economic climate. Where a decision to sell the home has been made, even where an asset has realisable value, it can be difficult to find a buyer to release that equity in a slow property market.

It is extremely important for divorcing couples or people contemplating getting divorced to seek legal advice upon the financial aspects and consequences of divorce and to have any financial arrangements incorporated into a carefully drafted formal Order which can finalise even the most complicated financial matters. Concerns over legal costs whilst money is tight may tempt divorcing couples to seek the assistance of on-line, "fixed fee" divorce services but this is never a substitute for face to face, in-depth advice regarding the financial consequences of divorce and the arrangements that will need to be put in place in order to secure each party against further financial claims in the future. Without a formal "Clean Break" Order either party could change their mind about a financial agreement reached and ask the Court for further financial remedy in the future, when former joint assets which have been previously transferred to one party may have increased in value.

Forbes family law team is made up of specialist Family / Divorce Solicitors who offer advice on all areas of Family Law, including divorce, division of assets following marriage breakdown, cohabitee issues, ancillary relief, civil partnerships, children matters and change of name deeds. For further information on family / divorce issues please contact any of our Family Law Solicitors.


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