Relationship breakdown is the cause of debt problems for 10% of people, according to a new survey from the Debt Advisory Centre.
The research suggested that relationship breakdown is the third biggest cause of people seeking debt help, but also found that the proportion of people citing failed relationships as a reason for their debt problems has fallen by two percentage points in the last five years, giving way to other factors.
The top five reasons people gave for getting into problem debt were: over-commitment (40%), increased living costs (11%), relationship breakdown (10%), change in employment - for example loss of hours or overtime - (6%) and unemployment (5%).
A separate survey by the Debt Advisory Service revealed some of the misconceptions people have about what happens to joint debt when a relationship ends. Eleven percent of people surveyed thought that when a couple splits, they are each liable for half of the debt, but this is not the case. In reality, if your ex-partner either can’t pay or refuses to pay, you could be responsible for the entire amount. The stress of having to pay off debt that you hadn’t budgeted for can add to the financial and emotional strain already caused by the break up.
Ian Williams from the Debt Advisory Centre said:
“If a relationship ends, it can be a real struggle for one person to keep up with all the finances and bills alone. When you consider the changes they have to deal with, both personal and financial, it's no great surprise that many people find themselves struggling with debt when a relationship breaks down.
“But whatever the reason people find themselves struggling to meet their debt repayments, the advice is the same - seek help sooner rather than later. Either speak to your lenders directly or take expert debt advice - there is a wide range of support available across the UK.”
As well as the importance of free debt advice, these findings highlight the need for better financial education, so that people know exactly what they are getting into when they take on joint debt with another person.