The media commonly suggest that January is the busiest month for divorces in England & Wales. More accurately, the first working Monday in the January is now labelled “Divorce Day”.
But is this correct?
Certainly, Christmas can be happy and joyful time but also it can be quite stressful and worrying too. This is also quickly followed by the New Year and people’s wish to make resolutions, one being to perhaps end an unhappy relationship. So yes, there is some truth in the headlines.
I have practised family law for almost 30 years, and I think we usually see a spike in enquiries where there are stress indicators or triggers. So, it is not necessarily about January but more about what is behind people wanting to start a divorce.
Over the last 3 years we have had to deal with Covid-19 and more recently the cost of living crisis, the war in Ukraine and the impact this has had both in Ukraine and the world.
But contrary to what many think, with the introduction of Covid “lockdowns” in 2020 I saw many couples getting closer together rather than pulling apart. Perhaps because there was little option to do otherwise or more likely because there was not the distraction of the outside world, social interaction was curbed and so on. Of course, sadly domestic abuse cases increased as did those where children were involved, for example, in a parent wanting to be closer to family or even moving back ‘home’ to another country. I don’t think the “divorce tsunami” ever materialised either!
More recently, we saw the campaign by Women’s Aid during the recent Qatar World Cup, asking to raise awareness of domestic abuse services. Whilst football does not cause domestic abuse, the increased alcohol intake and high levels of emotions can cause domestic abuse to increase in terms of frequency and severity.
But what of January and divorce; and indeed “Divorce Day”?
Holiday periods such as Christmas as seen as a trigger for divorce because people are ‘forced’ to be together. But divorce rates are at their lowest levels since the 1970s. That is perhaps a reflection of fewer couples marrying in the first place. However, the number of divorces in 2020 was 103,592 which is 4% down on the previous year. We will wait to see what the up-to-date statistics will be; and certainly, I predict a slight increase given the new ‘no fault’ divorce laws which came into force in April 2022 if only because some people will have waited. But on any level, there are still a large amount of people going down the divorce road each year, but not all in January! See more on no-fault divorce here.
What I find in my work is that, yes, there are people making divorce enquiries, but they still take their time and it important that the right decision is made, particularly where children are involved. I also see September as a ‘trigger’ month as it follows the summer holidays, children returning to school and decisions being made about the marriage or sadly, a separation or divorce.
So, what do you do however if you find yourself facing divorce in January?
Communication is key. This is whether you can save your marriage or if you are going to part ways you can do this in the best possible and most dignified way.
Next is to take family law advice. Here, you can achieve:
- Efficiency in the divorce process.
- Fairness in terms of an overall financial agreement and any arrangements concerning the children.
- Certainty that you have dealt with the division of any finances properly to prevent further dispute.
- An amicable divorce.
I have prepared a divorce guide for the ‘no fault’ rules here.
Therapy can help as well as counselling. Mediation can also be a relevant issue to consider.
We have also prepared a good divorce reading list as this can be a very difficult, upsetting, and anxious time.
Self-care is also very important and it is important to talk about relationship problems with friends and family; and also to seek legal advice.
For specialist advice on any family law related issue contact Maguire Family Law by email: email@example.com or telephone: