05 January 2018
Divorce Day: The Real Reasons Behind The Rise in January Splits
‘Divorce Day’ is here. So called because the 8th of January is when we family lawyers tend to see a rise in the number of couples seeking legal advice over the breakdown of their relationship.
According to new data from the Office for National Statistics, there was a five per cent increase in divorce petitions submitted to courts in 2016 compared with the previous year. 42 per cent of marriages now end in divorce, with the average marriage now lasting 12 years.
Statistics often have a way of suggesting that there is a one size fits all rationale behind all divorces, but, based on the experiences of my clients, this is not the case. Every relationship is as unique as the people in it and only the parties involved know for certain what happens behind closed doors. While divorce may be common, the reasons behind it are wholly personal and far from the quotidian.
Why do more people get divorced in January?
January tends to be a particularly busy time for divorce lawyers because lots of couples have experienced a confrontational or difficult Christmas with families and extended families. There can be a lot of pressure, especially when children and relatives are involved and many people put a brave face on in the hope that the seasonal festivities will get things back on track.
The truth, perhaps learned in hindsight, is that there were already problems in the marriage.
January is also a time for reflection with many people giving more thought to their future, making resolutions and perhaps taking a closer look at the state of their relationship and life at home.
We previously commissioned research which found that over half of the people interviewed accepted that Christmas was a very stressful time and that arguments that had occurred earlier in the year would probably raise their head at Christmas due to the tense environment. We also learned that six out of ten couples agreed that they would make the announcement of their separation in the new year, delaying the announcement to keep the family happy during the Christmas period.
Nobody goes into a marriage feeling that their relationship is formulaic, nor do they factor in divorce as part of their plans for the future. It is for this reason that the advice I would give, based on the new data, is for couples considering tying the knot to do their homework on prenuptial agreements.
For anyone considering divorce I would recommend that you seek independent legal advice once you have made the decision to separate. It can be a mistake to take advice from friends or people you know that have been through a divorce as every case is different.
Lorraine Harvey is a senior family law solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.