The New Year traditionally brings a spike in the number of couples seeking a divorce. FBC Manby Bowdler partner Philip Cowell says help is always at hand.
Whichever way you look at it, the first few weeks of the new year are a challenge for all of us.
The fun and festivity of Christmas very quickly becomes a distant memory, all-too-often to be replaced by the very real headache of paying for the bills run up celebrating the festive season.
The weather is at its worst, the dark nights at their longest and many of us have returned to jobs we endure rather than enjoy.
So it’s no surprise that law firms often see a big rise in the number of married couples looking to divorce at this time of the year. Indeed, the first working Monday of January is dubbed Divorce Day because so many people take this first opportunity to get in touch with their lawyers after the Christmas break.
Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show the number of divorces in England and Wales in 2018 was just over 92,000.
Meanwhile research from relationship support charity Relate has found that over half (55%) of UK adults think Christmas places an added strain on relationships, with a 13% rise in calls and a 58% rise in website users each January.
And it also estimates that as many as 2.87 million adults in the UK are in a ‘distressed relationship’ - with the new year likely to add further tension to the situation.
That is why we urge all couples experiencing difficulties to seek support as early as possible.
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. It is possible to file for divorce on the grounds of separation, but you will have to have been living apart for at least two years before issuing a petition.
And there is no such thing as a straightforward divorce, with all couples having to make difficult decisions and face up to some tough choices. You’ll need to work out how the marital assets are divided, how to split the finances and what to do about the welfare of any children involved.
In the raised emotional climate of a divorce, all these issues can prove enormously difficult to resolve.
That’s why we would always urge couples to keep engaging and communicating with each other – through trained mediation and lawyers if necessary – to try to make the process as efficient as possible and as painless as it can ever be for any children involved.
Getting the right advice from the right people at the right time can make all the difference between a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ divorce.
Philip is a partner in the Telford Family team and deals with all aspects of family law.