New Year, New Start – Filing for Divorce in January

Many of us will be making New Year’s resolutions this week, vowing to change our lives for the better. For some this might be by stopping smoking or taking up a sport, but for others it’s taking the first step to end a relationship. January is one of the busiest months for divorce petitions. In the US they have even nicknamed it ‘Divorce Month’. So what brings on this post-Christmas spike in marital splits?

We all know the extra pressure Christmas can put on a relationship. The inevitable financial stress, which accompanies the season can be a major factor. Indeed, the Archbishop of Canterbury recently said increased financial pressure in the build-up to Christmas ‘spoils life’ for families. His comments follows research that suggests the average family spends £1,000 on Christmas.

Add to this, visits from family members, the stress of cooking a big meal and perhaps a reasonable quantity of alcohol and you have a recipe for potential trouble. According to a survey of 2,000 people conducted by hotel chain Travelodge, the average family has a total of five arguments on Christmas day. A staggering 45 per cent of Britons admit to rowing over the Christmas dinner.

But it’s not simply the stress of one day, which results in the end of so many marriages. Usually cracks have begun to appear much earlier in the year and the pressure of Christmas is the breaking point.

Often couples in failing relationships will pledge to ‘give it one last go’ and leave the difficult decision to break up until the new year, or perhaps they are reluctant to take any action before Christmas due to the impact it might have on children and family.

Despite the realities, Christmas is supposed to be the season of peace and joy and couples often wish to portray to their loved ones that all is well. It is once the children have gone back to school that the divorce lawyers’ phones start ringing.

Another increase in divorce applications is noted in September after the school summer holidays. Couples often continue to stay married for the sake of the children, but despite the extra family time afforded by the school break, find their relationships are still failing.

Unfortunately, there is no ‘good time’ for divorce; it will be equally painful and challenging, whichever month you choose. However, if you do decide to take action in January, you may take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Our highly experienced Family & Children Team can provide you with advice as to the best way to proceed and all the support you need to minimise the impact on your children.