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For better or worse... Australian couples put kids before happiness

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Media Release

Published on

More than half of young Australians would stay in an unhappy relationship for the sake of their children, according to new research.

Family law firm Slater and Gordon surveyed more than 2000 Australians in traditional and de facto marriages and found younger couples are more likely to sacrifice their happiness to keep their families together.

Of those aged 25-34, 52% said they would stay in an unhappy marriage for the sake of their children compared to 44% of 45-54 year olds.

Slater and Gordon family lawyer Heather McKinnon said many couples carefully considered the impact separation and divorce would have on their children before contacting a lawyer.

"Separation, and ultimately divorce, is a difficult and emotional process for all involved. The impact on young children is life-changing so it's not surprising that many young couples put their children ahead of their own happiness,” Ms McKinnon said.

January is the most popular time for Australian couples to contact family lawyers and around half of these inquiries will, sadly, progress to divorce.

"Couples experiencing difficulties usually stick it out over Christmas for their sake of their children, but once the festive season is over and children return to school, we find many will call us for help," Ms McKinnon said.

The research also found that overall women are less likely to stay in an unhappy relationship for the sake of children. More than half of women surveyed (56%) said they would not stick with an unhappy union for the sake of their children. In contrast, 54% of men said they would.

“Increasingly we are finding that women are taking the first step in contacting us. They come to the conclusion that staying in an unhappy relationship is not good for them, their partner and their children,” Ms McKinnon said.

Other key findings:

South Australians are the least likely to stay in an unhappy relationship for the sake of their children – 58% said they would not.

Respondents from New South Wales were the most likely to stay in an unhappy relationship for the sake of their children – 54% said they would.

Less than half of Queenslanders (43%), Victorians (46%) and Western Australians (46%) would stay in an unhappy relationship for the sake of their children.

Couples who are separating should seek the advice of family law experts who can help negotiate a settlement that takes into account their best interests as well as those of their children.