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The cost of loving and leaving a relationship calculated at £12,000

Date: 2006-10-17

THEY say breaking up is hard to do. Now a report has confirmed that moving on from a relationship is not only emotionally draining - but expensive too.

It has been calculated that the average cost of setting up a new home after a cohabiting Scots couple split up is almost £12,000. The precise figure - £11,832 - is based on the amount estimated by those questioned when asked how much money it would take to replace the goods bought jointly if they went their separate ways.

The most common joint purchases include a TV, bought by 63 per cent of couples, beds (65 per cent), washing machine, white goods (60 per cent) and CDs and DVDs (57 per cent).

Researchers found that although nine out of ten cohabiting couples make major purchases together during their relationship, only a handful consider who will keep the items if they split up.

In Scotland, just 2 per cent set down on paper how joint purchases will be split up, compared with only 1 per cent for the rest of the UK. A further 3 per cent of Scots made some sort of verbal agreement on the division of property, but 48 per cent of those questioned said they made no firm decision on the subject.

Of those questioned in the survey, carried out by the Alliance & Leicester, nearly a third of loved-up Scots couples, 31 per cent, said it had never occurred to them when making purchases that they would ever break up.

According to relationship counsellor Denise Knowles, setting down an agreement on the divvying up of property is essential for cohabiting couples.

"Even though it's not legally binding, an increasing number of cohabiting couples are doing this," she said.

"There is a certain romantic mind-set, though, among couples that to even consider the idea of breaking up is in some way to jinx their relationship.

"But it's just being sensible. It's not about saying 'I don't trust you', it's about saying 'I love you just now, but that might not always happen'. In my experience, it's not the big things that cause the trouble, it's things like CDs and DVDs that bring out people's pettiness.

"In the end, people have to accept that the end of a relationship is very different from the beginning."

But while Scots may find themselves out of pocket in any break-up by more than £10,000, south of the Border separation is a more expensive option. The average price placed on break-up in England and Wales is £13,500, but in London if the worst does happen, the total cost of replacing everything is £14,092.

Still, these average costs to cohabiting couples who split up are dwarfed by some high-profile divorce settlements, such as Colin Montgomerie's estimated £12.5 million pay-out to his ex-wife Eimar.

A spokeswoman for Relate, the relationship counselling body, said couples had to look at the long term: "Relationships go through different stages. When it comes to possessions, people have to think with their heads rather than their hearts."

Alliance & Leicester spokeswoman Claire Alvey said: "It is understandable that most couples buy things together, whether it is a major purchase like a new car or minor purchases like CDs or DVDs, without thinking about what might happen if one day they split up.

"There are emotional issues that are quite rightly at the top of the agenda, especially if children are involved, but the cost of splitting up can last longer than the heartbreak itself."

The survey of more than 2,250 adults was carried out by YouGov.

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