The breakdown of a marriage can be traumatic for couples and then the lawyers get involved.

Every year in Ireland, sixteen thousand couples get married. The vast majority of these marriages last for life but for some, it does not always go as planned.

Research has shown that the main reasons for marital breakdown point to a communication difficulty or a personality clash. Other factors identified relate to alcohol, sex, finances, and extra-marital affairs.

No matter what the reasons, true to all cases is the pain, heart break and turmoil marital breakdown brings. The lonely process of ending the union.

The 1991 census showed the number of people registered as deserted was 23,000, over 11,000 legally separated, 13,000 living apart, and around 6,000 foreign divorces. A further 1,221 marriages were annulled.

Moira Stowe of the organisation Gingerbread describes the fear that marital breakdown brings. The fear of losing your home and your family. This is where the legal profession steps in. Cases can take around eighteen months to get to court which puts further stress on both parties and the children. Moira Stowe believes that the circuit court is not the place to negotiate such cases as it is such a cold, divisive and adversarial atmosphere.

You’re just two people doing this awful battle.

This episode of 'Family Matters’ was broadcast on 29 March 1995.The reporters are Bríd Og Ní Bhuachalla and Kieran Fitzgerald

Family Matters was a TV magazine programme for and about families. It was presented by husband and wife team Sean O’Rourke and Caroline Murphy and looked at the changing face of Irish family life. The first episode was broadcast on 7 October 1992 and it ran until 12 April 1995.