01785 223440      team@orj.co.uk

Separating couples warned about the pitfalls of delaying divorce

Our Head of Family Law has warned separating couples against joining the hundreds of thousands of people deciding to delay their divorce because of financial worries.

Research by Legal & General Retail found that more than 270,000 people (19%) have delayed their divorce due to cost-of-living pressures since 2020.

But ORJ’s leading expert in family law, Jackie Meredith, said doing so can actually cause additional pressure both emotionally and financially.

Jackie said: “Many families are feeling the financial squeeze at the moment. The cost of everyday items has increased and interest rates, for example, are much higher than they have been for almost a generation.

“It’s important that once a marriage has broken down, a financial settlement is agreed as soon as practicably possible for everyone’s benefit.

“While it’s tempting to put divorce on the backburner with the intention of picking it up when the economy improves, when hopefully people will have more money in their pockets and cost of living generally is more affordable, I would warn against this approach after seeing numerous cases where separating couples end up worse off as a result of delaying the inevitable.”

Jackie, who is listed as a Leading Lawyer by research group Wiselaw, said she had recently worked on a case where the divorcing couple had agreed for one party to keep the house in exchange for the other party receiving a cash sum.  

They delayed starting the divorce and, consequently, due to a variety of factors including the cost of living, the party hoping to keep the house could no longer afford it. 

Jackie said the problems were heightened by the family courts suffering long delays due to the pressures faced by a move to a new online system, the number of people representing themselves and backlog generally.  

She said: “These delays can have a huge impact too for parties who have reached a financial agreement that cannot be implemented until the Court has approved what they have agreed.

“In my experience with over 20 years in family law, sadly very few couples actually reconcile once the relationship has ended.  While your separation might be amicable you can’t guarantee that will remain the case.  Some separations can turn hostile very quickly.

“If there’s no prospect of getting back together, the sooner you can each achieve closure and financial security the better and the importance of securing legal advice about the financial aspect of your divorce should not be underestimated.”

Need help finalising your divorce? Speak to Jackie on 01785 223440.