A new divorce survey by Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK has revealed that families play an important part in advising a couple on whether they should stay married or get divorced.
The research, which canvassed the attitudes of 2,007 divorced Brits, found that 63% of divorcees said that their families influenced their decision to split with mothers on both sides having the greatest sway on whether the relationship would break down or not.
One in 10 said their siblings prompted them to end the marriage while 6% said their children’s feelings played a part in helping them make a decision.
The report showed that the most common ways that families encourage their loved ones to consider ending their marriage were to highlight their partner’s differences, criticise them and refuse to spend time with them.
However, 67% said they were glad their family voiced their opinions as it convinced them that their marriage wasn’t working and helped them to end it.
Slater and Gordon Family Solicitor Amanda McAlister said, “Families tend to be bigger than ever before and are increasingly made up of children and relatives from previous relationships. As a result there is often more risk of tensions and interference from families on both sides.
“Often family members aren’t interfering to cause problems but because they can see that a relationship isn’t working and because they are trying to help their loved ones face up to their relationship issues.
“We found that clients have often felt pressure from their family to end a relationship or felt isolated by their family because of their choice of partner or even felt ignored by the new family they have married into.
“Early on in a relationship it’s easier to ignore the opinions of those close to you but as time goes by couples who are finding marriage tough often realise that their mothers were right about the problems in their relationships after all.
“At the end of the day your family do tend to know you better than anyone else and normally take an instant dislike to someone they think isn’t right for you.”
The majority of respondents said their partner’s family had as much if not more of an impact on the relationship than their own family, while 44% admitted they had never gotten on with their ex partner’s family.
74% complained that their ex partner had always listened to their family more than them, and a quarter said that they were completely ignored by their in-laws at times.
Three out of 10 said they had been unhappy in their relationship for a while before their family convinced them to end it all, while 38% said that with hindsight they and their ex had always been poorly suited but they hadn’t been able to see it at the time.
Amanda McAlister said, “This shows that when it comes to deciding whether to stay with your partner or not the advice you will get from your family is likely to be invaluable. But what we would say is that when it comes to negotiating the terms of your divorce and any financial settlements, then you are much better placed confiding in someone independent to get a neutral view.
“Family can be a great support during a divorce but we advise clients to try and avoid bringing their family to see their Divorce Solicitor or to Court as this is when emotions need to be kept to a minimum.
“A divorce is an emotionally draining experience and families can make the legal process harder and even prolong litigation.”
Amanda McAlister is a Senior Family Law & Divorce Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.
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