Why is there such a rush to divorce or separate as soon as the New Year begins?
As we reach the end of the year and prepare for a fresh start, it’s natural to take stock, assess the areas of our lives that aren’t working and vow to make dramatic changes. For some this is to lose weight or give up the booze. Others look for to make a more significant change vowing never to experience another Christmas like the last. Festive celebrations tend to put your relationship in the spotlight. Unfortunately, its glare is often unforgiving – balanced against the perfect family Christmas marketing campaigns, your own family can see a marked contrast.
Statistically one in five couples will seek some form of legal advice over their relationship during the month of January. While most of us pack up our Christmas decorations, many Brits will also be calling time on their relationships. The first Monday back at work has long been dubbed “Divorce Monday” – the day of the year where people make the most enquiries about divorce. You’ve heard of Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. Well unfortunately “Divorce Mondays” are now quite well known. I am in no doubt you will see many articles of this nature posted through social media, news and radio. In fact, the whole month of January sees more divorce filings than any other month of the year. This is a desperately sad state of affairs.
Why wait until January?
There are several reasons people wait until January to begin the divorce process. For families with children, the biggest reason to wait until January is emotional. Many parents want to give their kids one last Christmas together as a family. Additionally, the holidays are full of work parties and events with friends and family. Of course, some couples want to delay explaining why their significant other isn’t there. New Year’s resolutions also likely motivate divorces.
On a practical note, tax purposes and schedules certainly come into play at the end of the year. Your marital status on December 31st determines your marital status for the entire tax year. For some, marriage is a tax benefit, so they wait until the new year to begin a divorce. Also, with vacations and court closings, November and December are logistically tough for scheduling meetings and other things that come with divorce.
Thinking about money
Financial strain can also have a huge impact on divorce. Fewer cases are eligible for Public Funding nowadays and Our Family Dispute team’s experience is that more people are seeking to use mediation as a first port of call as opposed to legal Representation. A pre Mediation Meeting can assist you in deciding whether they wish to remain together or separate and whether Mediation or the more traditional process of separate legal representation is more suited to you and your particular set of circumstances. Of course Mediation is not counselling or therapy but can provide impartial and practical options to help you to focus on the decisions you wish to make. This meet may also be free if you are financially eligible for legal aid.
A recent survey by Censuswide
The research polled a total of 1,000 divorced and married people. One in six said that financial difficulties such as unemployment had, or would have, an impact on when they divorced. In comparison, only one in eight stated that the timing of divorce was, or would be, affected by family holidays, including Christmas.
Are you in this position?
If you’re considering ending a relationship this month, here are a few things that can help. First, understand your options to include relationship counselling and the different methods of conflict resolution. This can save you from a lot of costly conflict and retain ongoing respect and dignity. Obviously, this is particularly important where children are involved. There is desire from every direction to see divorces carried out in a fair and amicable manner. In fact we are currently looking at changes to our Divorce Laws to introduce ” no fault ” divorce but we are not quite there yet! Family law judges are very keen for couples, especially parents, to try to resolve disputes before resorting to court proceedings. We very much support this approach where appropriate and have one of the longest standing out of court dispute resolution departments in the North West.
Charities dedicated to divorce
Do your research and get your support tools in place to help you through whatever process you decide . This is why we work with the charity Voices in the Middle. They aim to reduce the impact of divorce and separation on children by providing a support network. Charities such as this have gathered information and resources from people who have been in the same situation to provide a voice for children caught up in divorce. It’s a rapidly growing charity and increasing demand builds up its very existence.
Duncan Fisher, who set up the Voices in the Middle, said: “Being a teenager is hard enough and having their family life drastically changed at a crucial and often already stressful time in their lives, leaves many young people feeling alone and lost. We want to give people a chance to speak to family experts as well as other young people so they can better handle the emotions and stresses that come with this situation.”
What you can do
You may wish to explore your child being able to have their own say. You can do this by inviting them to Child Inclusive Mediation. After all this they are part of the family being reconstructed and may even have views and opinions which may make some of your decisions easier to make. My experience in working with children is that they always have something to add to the process in a positive way.
Parenting Consultants or separated Parenting Programmes can also helps parents to refocus during a difficult time. They can teach you to co-parent, focusing on the needs of the children and offer support services for you to help you manage yourself emotionally and mentally during this difficult time.
Don’t suffer in silence
No one should have to stay in a relationship that makes them unhappy. In some instances, ending a relationship is the very best way to begin the new year. However, I think we need to be more honest about the fact that Christmas is hard and it’s normal to spend at least part of it hating your partner. The way you feel about each other at the end of December might not accurately reflect your relationship during the rest of the year. If you’re still talking to each other at this point, it’s probably worth seeing how January goes before you get serious about serving papers. However understand your rights and options. We are here to help. Contact us on 0151 647 7372 or email a member of our team on firstname.lastname@example.org