Financial problems are the most common reason for divorce, ahead of work stress and not spending enough time together, new research from law firm Slater and Gordon has found.
And with many relationships under increased stress after the expensive Christmas period, the first working Monday of each year - dubbed ‘divorce day’ - sees a spike in the number of couples seeking legal advice about ending their marriage.
The solicitors firm says 23% of couples it surveyed say they have rowed about money in the last two weeks. Meanwhile, more than a fifth (21%) of divorcing couples say they blame their financial problems on their partner. Of these, 43% say their spouse overspends while 32% argue that they refuse to save at all.
Lorraine Harvey, family law solicitor at Slater and Gordon, says: “People who contact us have generally spent months and sometimes years thinking about divorce, but fears of upsetting their families, being alone or left financially out of pocket have put them off.
“Although it is a happy time for many, relationships which are already showing cracks are likely to buckle under the added pressure and expense that Christmas brings.
“Money is always a common issue and if one person feels that their partner is not pulling their weight financially or at least trying to then it can very quickly cause resentment to grow.”
Key considerations for divorcing couples
Peter Hamilton, head of strategic partnerships at financial provider Zurich, says couples who are divorcing must consider their financial future when splitting up.
He urges couples to close joint accounts and open new ones in their own names. This will also protect an individual’s credit score, which this includes information on accounts you hold jointly with others.
Divorcing couples should also ensure their will is updated and that both their pension and insurance policies are still suitable given their new circumstances.
“You’ll be surprised at how many financial products and agreements you share with your ex-partner, from mortgage and credit card payments right down to utility bills,” Mr Hamilton says.
“The longer you have been together, the more tightly wound up even your basic finances will be. Your credit report will list the details of every financial agreement you have, and this will help to protect your credit score from unexpected payments on the part of your former spouse.
“You need to build up your own, independent score and improve your rating if needed to ensure you don’t get turned down for any future loans.”