No matter how flawlessly the turkey is cooked, how special the gifts under the tree are or how magical the decorations look when they light up – the pressure of hosting a ‘perfect’ family Christmas can put a whole heap of stress on married couples.
So much so that according to Relate, one of the UK’s biggest relationship charities, many husbands and wives consider ending their marriage post-festive period.
As a result, January 7 is being dubbed ‘Divorce Day’ with family lawyers up and down the country preparing to face a surge in inquiries from couples deciding to end their marriage.
Philip Cowell, a partner in our Telford team, explains why a post-Christmas break-up is an issue that will affect thousands of couples and January 8 is expected to be the most popular day for many to begin their legal proceedings.
He said: “Unfortunately, the stress of Christmas can be the last straw for many couples who are unhappy and already facing difficulties in their marriage.
“It can be the cause of arguments and trigger unreasonable behaviour and once the festivities are over everything comes to a head.
“January is a notoriously busy time for us and we will undoubtedly see a spike in divorce enquiries over the next few weeks compared to other times of the year.”
According to data released by Relate, one in five people in the UK are in a ‘distressed relationship’ whilst the office for National Statistics reports that 42 per cent of marriages now end in divorce.
With this in mind, Philip is urging couples experiencing difficulties to seek support as early as possible.
He explained: “To secure a divorce, a marriage must be shown to have broken down irretrievably, with most being ‘fault-based’ - such as due to adultery or unreasonable behaviour.
“The only alternative is a period of separation of at least two years before issuing a divorce petition. The proceedings can then take a period of time to complete and couples must be prepared to face difficult decisions. There are many things to consider including financial matters and how property savings and pensions are to be divided.
“If there are children involved, arrangements for parental care need to be considered and discussed.”
He said, for divorcing couples, mediation would usually involve sorting out such arrangements separately from the actual divorce proceedings, with the resulting agreement likely to be presented to the courts for a formal consent order to be made.
He added: “It’s important for couples to continue engaging and communicating with one another no matter how difficult circumstances may be as this can help speed up the proceedings and make things easier especially if children are involved.”
Having a specialist mediator involved and legal guidance over your rights can also be the difference between a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ break-up.
Philip is a partner in our Telford Family team and deals with all aspects of family law. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01952 208418.