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Stress and relationship breakdown


I was drawn to some research in the HSE Annual Stats Report 2010/11. In there, it provides some statistics in relation to the cost of work related stress to British industry.

An analysis of these figures has confirmed that those suffering work related stress had on average 27 working days off in this period. This means that employers are losing between 1-2 months of people’s working time through stress related illnesses.

An analysis of the most common causes of stress reveals that death and divorce are certainly in the top 3 of stresses that an individual suffers.

We certainly notice that most of the clients that come into the family team, suffering from a relationship breakdown, do find it very difficult to cope with. Some turn to doctors for medical assistance; some turn to counsellors for coping mechanisms; some bury their heads. However, the common theme is that they all find the whole situation stressful, upsetting and incredibly difficult to deal with.

One of the key messages we give to our clients is to make sure they tell their employer about their home situation. Whilst people may not necessarily want their employers to know the ins and outs of their personal life, it is our experience that performance often suffers and so at least telling them that there are some difficulties at home, does help in taking account of any changes in performance. We know of a case where a client did not tell work about the problems at home and in the next appraisal performance, was down graded as she scored low on a number of key areas. This in turn affected the pay rise she was going to get for the following year, at a time when she needed all the money she could get to be able to take on a mortgage on her own.

It is often beneficial to talk to close colleagues about difficulties, though they do not need to know the ins and outs of the relationship breakdown, sometimes telling close work colleagues will help by talking about it and helping them to know how to deal. However, it is also right to say that people do not want to know every ongoing detail of the breakdown. We often suggest people contact specialists counsellors who will provide a professional and confidential service to help them cope with the breakdown.

Dealing with a divorce, or a relationship breakdown, is inevitably a difficult process to go through. There is lots of paperwork to complete, including forms and letters, requests for financial information, and it is right that it is often our first instinct to leave it to do another day. We advise people to deal with matters straight away, rather than adding to a “to do” list which, more often than not, remains a “to do” list. People also find that they do not look after themselves. It is well known that eating, sleeping, resting and relaxing all lead to a healthy body, which leads to a healthy mind.

The Family Team at Clarion have a vast number of years of experience between us of dealing with relationship breakdowns. We find a lot of our work is taken up with sorting out the legal side of things, but also we know how to help our clients and recognise the signs when people are not struggling to cope. People often think that by coming to see a solicitor, that means inevitably that matters will become confrontational and that a Court Application will be issued. This is not necessarily the case for every client. In fact, we have many cases where we are able to resolve matters amicably, through discussions and negotiation. One of the best way to do this is through the collaborative process. This is client led and issues are discussed, and resolved, in face to face meetings between the client, their partner and each party’s lawyers. Clients remain in control of the process and we find this helpful to improve communications moving forward, which is particularly important where there are children. We appreciate the collaborative process is not suitable in every case but there are a number of other, alternate methods of dispute resolution, which do not involve going to Court such as mediation, round table meetings etc. which we are able to advise and assist with.

If you wish to discuss any aspect of this please contact Justine Osmotherley at Clarion Solicitors on email at justine.osmotherley@clarionsolicitors.com or by telephone on 0113 336 3323.

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