According to recent research, almost 1 in 4 behaviour-based divorce petitions filed during lockdown mentioned alcohol abuse as a central reason for separation.
Addiction, excessive drinking, and substance abuse are not uncommon causes for relationship breakdown, but the number of petitions citing these issues as unreasonable behaviour has increased more than any other reason during the UK lockdown.
The statistics were taken from the period between 31st March and 31st August this year, with 180 of 700 behaviour petitions claiming drinking to be a key reason for wanting to separate.
These findings match further research into UK drinking habits where more than a quarter of people say they drank more during lockdown – both in frequency and quantity. One in five people said they drank alcohol to try to help manage anxiety or stress, and binge drinking increased by 6% during the UK lockdown, along with the proportion of people drinking four or more times per week – from 13.7% to 22%.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to see how an increase in drinking to cope with a stressful situation can become a vicious cycle when combined with the breakdown of a relationship. Stress levels rocketed during lockdown, and it’s understandable that any underlying relationship issues would have been forced to the surface while couples were stuck in close proximity for months on end, worrying about their health, finances, and an uncertain future.
We have already seen a rise in divorce enquiries since March, and this is predicted to continue as people begin to make tough decisions about their relationships and rethink their priorities in light of the huge upheaval this year.
In all cases, we advise trying to take a cooperative approach to separation wherever possible – even more so now, as the Family Court experiences delays in dealing with the backlog of cases caused by lockdown. There are several options for out-of-court separation that encourage collaboration, negotiation and compromise, and help to pave the way for an amicable divorce. Mediation, arbitration, and collaborative family law all focus on clear communication and compromise, while an option for no-fault divorce is due to come into effect in 2021, with the intention of streamlining the process even further.
To speak to a solicitor about your situation, and to arrange a free 45-minute family law consultation, please get in touch with the team at Frances Lindsay & Co. Whatever the reasons behind your separation, we’re here to help take the weight off your shoulders and find a way forward that suits your unique circumstances.