Bankers' wives planning divorces after Christmas

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Divorce cake

Christmas can, unfortunately, be a precursor to divorce. Divorce numbers in January are twice as high as at other times of the year according a cheerful article in the Telegraph last new year. Worst: it seems that while divorces in the population at large are dwindling, divorces involving a banking spouse are robust or rising.

"We had a run of instructions from City spouses over the autumn," William Healing, a family law partner at law firm Kingsley Napley tells us. "When a member of a couple works in financial services, there will often be a large capital cushion which makes it possible to end an unhappy marriage," he says. "People on 'civvy street' often lack the financial cushion which makes divorce possible."

This ability to fund two households post-separation may be one reason why banking divorces are (anecdotally) holding up, while divorces among the population at large are falling. Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that 42% of UK marriages ended in divorce in 2012, compared to 45% in 2005.

Louise Spitz, a consultant specialising in family law at Manches, tells us she has a lot of fund management and banking clients. "There has been less of a fall in divorces among City professionals," confirms Spitz. "People with larger incomes have the resources to split up, whereas a lot of other people are struggling to get by and can't even pay for one household."

Redundancy and fear of redundancy are almost always a factor in financial services divorces, Spitz says. "The fear of redundancy creates stress and difficulty at home, which can make it difficult to meet performance criteria at work and make the situation self-perpetuating," she adds. Other issues contributing to redundancies among financial services couples include long hours and travel. "When one member of a couple travels a lot and the other one is left at home with young children, the stay-home partner can end up feeling like a single parent," she says.

With jobs in banking less secure than in the past, Spitz says bankers' spouses are pushing harder to get upfront settlements instead of payments out of an ex-spouse's continuing income: "They know that if their ex is made redundant, their income could be greatly reduced."

The good news from all this cheerlessness is that not all family lawyers are awash in divorcing finance professionals. Tracy Dargan, an associate at Irwin Mitchell solicitors, says there's been no increase in financial services divorces at all. "I really don't have many banking clients at the moment," she says.

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