There has been a significant increase in the number of married couples who are worried about separation, Catholic marriage care service ACCORD claims.

Chairman Bishop Christopher Jones said difficult economic times have put pressure on people and in turn on their marriagea and family relationships.

Last year 6,500 couples sought their help - an increase of 6% on 2010.

The number of couples worried about separation rose from 52% in 2010 to 58% last year.

Levels of emotional abuse reported by clients have risen in the three-year period, from 54% in 2010, to 59% last year.

Launching ACCORD’s annual report, Bishop Jones urged people who are experiencing marriage and family difficulties to seek help from the organisation.

ACCORD's 800 volunteers work in 60 centres throughout Ireland.