So today was D-Day, the day following the festive Christmas holiday when the number of people contacting solicitors about divorce peaks. Well I can confirm that I was certainly busy, but is it fair to blame Christmas for this phenomenon and if so, should people be running off to solicitors to end their marriages so quickly?
Undoubtedly January is a month when traditionally a large proportion of new files are opened in any family law firm, but from my own experience most of these are for clients who have been planning to start proceedings for many months. I’m sure most divorce lawyers would concur that few clients ever undertake divorce lightly and rarely do they do so because of events consolidated into a single festive break.
The claustrophobic atmosphere of being cooped up together at home for the best part of two weeks, tired out from lack of sleep or exhaustion, stressed from all the planning and shopping that seems to go into Christmas these days is not the best environment for cultivating romance. Add to that mix: the bitter anti-climax of an event that perhaps did not do justice to its build up; the bizarre behaviour of others especially if influenced by alcohol; no opportunity for diversion or escape, especially when the television offering is pitiful and the weather is awful. Is it any wonder that we all fall out with each other and the average family has at least five arguments on Christmas Day itself?
With divorce now affecting over 40% of marriages in the UK, if Christmas really is responsible for a large proportion of such, the Government could, of course, clearly resolve what it sees as one of society’s biggest problems by simply prohibiting yuletide festivities as we currently know them. It might not make it very popular but what’s a child sobbing because Santa Claus can no longer come, to one crying because his parents are separating?
Unless the Government is even loopier than I think, however, it won’t be banning Christmas anytime soon. Moreover, it doesn’t need to. Save in those relationships that were already on the rocks, most families put away the arguments with the Christmas tree decorations, dust themselves down and get on with life as usual, vowing to do things differently next time.
For others a visit to a solicitor might be on their list of resolutions. A committed family law professional will outline the options and will inevitably urge them to think through the consequences and consider counselling or other alternatives first and before making a final decision. Indeed if the last two weeks have driven you to thinking that you might ring a lawyer for an appointment this month, why not look up the number for your local branch of Relate instead. You might still decide to divorce but at least you will only be doing so after you have given the situation calm and measured thought.