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I have just taken part in a radio interview for Radio Aire on 18th October 2012. You may have heard it?

Clarion were asked to comment on a recent survey carried out by Grant Thornton, their 9th Annual Matrimonial Survey, in which they ask family lawyers to comment on the latest issues and trends affecting family law solicitors and their clients.

The survey proves interesting reading and can be found within their October 2012 Publications section.

I would agree with the survey and said as much on the radio. I think it is true to say that the recession has had an impact on couples who are divorcing at the current time and this can be for various reasons. The survey indicates that financial worries are putting more strain on relationships and this has the most influence on decisions to divorce.

In my experience, these financial worries are linked not only to the problems faced by couples regarding redundancy or losing businesses but also increasing debts, the value of assets decreasing with lower house prices and investments falling. In addition couples are more cautious to engage in divorce proceedings as they are both likely to face the expense of legal fees. Couples are also finding that due to already stretched finances, they cannot afford to run 2 households, for one to perhaps find alternative rental accommodation, and so have the added pressure of still living together under the same roof while going through a relationship breakdown.

The survey also touches on the alternatives which are available to couples in reaching an agreement and thus trying to avoid the higher legal costs associated with court proceedings. These alternatives include mediation and collaborative law, for example. Again, it is true to say that couples who are going through a divorce will look for the “cheaper” options to resolve matters, although this may not always be in their best interests and there should be a combined approach to trying to reach an agreement between the parties, but always with the assistance of their legal advisors. At Clarion, Justine Osmotherley and I are both trained as Collaborative Lawyers and can offer this as an alternative solution for our clients.

I was recently at a Conference for Collaborative Lawyers and an interesting comparison was made, which stuck in my mind. “Couples will pay £10,000.00 to an estate agent to sell their property, but are reluctant to pay the same amount for good professional legal advice!” False economy, perhaps?

Sue Mason can be contacted at Clarion Solicitors on 0113 336 3340 and sue.mason@clarionsolicitors.com for advice in relation to marriage breakdown.

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