The impact of the summer holidays
September is usually a busy month for family lawyers, as it is a popular month for divorce. There tends to be an increase in divorce enquiries, particularly in comparison to August, which is quieter as families enjoy the long summer holidays.
In fact, the summer break is sometimes seen as a reason for the rise in divorce enquiries in September. Families commonly spend more time together, and this can expose cracks in the relationship that may not otherwise have come to the surface.
A similar phenomenon happens every January, termed by the media as ‘Divorce Day’. Divorce Day is the first working Monday of the year and has historically been the busiest day of the year for divorce enquiries, as the impact of a stressful Christmas and New Year takes its toll on relationships.
For struggling couples, the summer holidays can bring deep-rooted issues out into the open. More time spent together, the need to provide entertainment for children, the financial demands of a holiday, and the pressure of having to be seen to have fun and be a happy family, can push relationships to the limit.
One of the key issues we as family lawyers see in September is how money worries surface after increased spending over the holidays.
Mortgage rates and economic uncertainty
Financial issues often play a significant role in relationship breakdown. They have been cited as the cause for a relationship breakdown in record numbers at Stowe over the past 18 months.
Money can be a sensitive topic for even the strongest of couples. For those already struggling in their relationship, it can prove to be the final straw.
Increasing mortgage rates are having a considerable impact on couples in the UK, potentially leading to consideration of divorce.
Some couples are starting to see old deals (some as low as 2%) expire and new five-year fixed rates reach 6%, potentially more in coming months.
Here at Stowe, we conducted a survey of 600 people across the UK on how mortgage rates are affecting families and relationships.
The survey revealed that 82% of respondents have been or will be financially impacted by the inflation of mortgage rates.
Almost a quarter (23%) responded they can no longer afford to pay their mortgage. Over half of the respondents said they were experiencing friction within their marriage or relationship because of this issue.
Over the cost-of-living crisis, divorce enquiries have risen to record highs, with financial issues regularly cited as a primary reason.
The economic climate, coupled with the pressure of the summer holidays, could prove too much for more couples, leading to them looking into divorce in September.
Financial problems and domestic abuse
However, even accounting for the ongoing economic uncertainty and the rise in mortgage rates, the rise in September for divorce enquiries may not be as significant as has been seen in previous years.
Recently, there has been a rise in the number of people who are unable to leave their marriage or relationship due to financial problems.
This is all the more concerning for people who are trapped in abusive relationships who are unable to leave their partner because they cannot support themselves financially on their own.
Victims of domestic abuse have been hit hard by the cost-of-living crisis. This is because financial hardship is connected to increasing physical, emotional and financial abuse.
Furthermore, inflation, and now mortgage rises, may mean more people cannot afford to divorce or separate from their partner, particularly if the abuser is using money as a means to control their partner.
Will September 2023 be a popular month for divorce?
For couples wanting to start the divorce process, money will certainly play a role in the decision. However, it will be interesting to see whether the economic environment will swing matters towards the usual September increase in enquiries or whether there will be a drop in couples wanting to start divorce proceedings.
For those who choose to end their relationship, getting the right support and legal advice is crucial. Anyone suffering abuse who finds themselves in immediate danger, please call the police. For advice on domestic abuse please call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247.
Mortgage after divorce
How much does divorce cost?
Effects of divorce on children
Holidays with children after divorce
Legal help for domestic abuse victims
Source: Children - stowefamilylaw.co.uk