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All I want for Christmas is... to leave you

Posted: 21 Dec 2021

Divorce over the festive season – should you wait until January? 

The first Monday of January sees family law solicitors working through a long list of new enquiries every year. This day is known as ‘Divorce Day’ and is a direct response to the strain of Christmas on couples who are not on the best of terms. But should you rush straight to your solicitor as the practice doors open in the New Year? Let’s take a look at the options and why it might be better to wait. 

Ideas of the perfect Christmas, the cost of gifts and tables of food, and time spent with extended family, there is no doubt that the festive season can put a strain on a relationship.  

For some of them, the New Year is the right time to make a new start, and divorce lawyers generally see an increase in new cases in January. 

Are there any reasons to wait? 

Christmas is not a normal time of year. It is possible that once the holiday season ends and you can return to your regular routine that your relationship could improve. In any event, you may benefit from a cooling off period before making any lasting decisions. 

If you have children in the household, so long as you and your spouse can remain civil, waiting until after the school holidays have ended could avoid spoiling their Christmas. 

Waiting until the New Year might also allow you to access support and relationship guidance. Even if you do not end up staying together, this can help you talk openly with your spouse and can potentially make the divorce process easier. 

The new no-fault divorce 

To obtain a divorce, you must show that your relationship has irretrievably broken down.  

Currently, the ways in which you can demonstrate this include adultery and unreasonable behaviour, which can lead to the parties feeling that they have to apportion blame, which often causes additional animosity and strain.

On 6 April 2022, a ‘no-fault’ divorce will become available and the new law will give couples the opportunity to state that their relationship has irretrievably broken down without needing to cite anything further. 

Separating over Christmas 

If you do decide to go ahead with a separation and you want to take the first steps towards a divorce over Christmas, it can help if you try to keep communicating. 

If you have children, how you explain matters to them will depend on their age and level of understanding, but it is important to try and keep things civil for their sake. 

Keeping busy over the time that you are all together at home will help. Plan activities that will keep them occupied and try to take a step back from the divorce and separation process while you are with the children. 

Mediation 

A divorce takes time, and you will have plenty of opportunity to set out what you want in respect of issues such as finances, property and children in the future. If you and your spouse find it difficult to agree on anything, then mediation is likely to be a good option for you. A neutral mediator will help you both understand your options and help you try and find a solution without the need for a court hearing and without undue animosity. 

During this difficult time, try to find space for you and your spouse to have time alone, either in a quiet room in the house or by staying with a friend or relative.  

If you would like to speak about how you can achieve an amicable divorce, please get in touch and I’d be happy to talk about your options. 


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