Divorce Day is a myth

10 January 2022

Divorce Day is a myth and unhappy couples should be wary of feeling rushed into proceedings.

That’s the warning today from family law expert and Resolution lawyer Rhian Gray of Black Country law firm Higgs LLP.

The first working Monday in January is commonly dubbed “Divorce Day” when divorce enquiries are said to surge. This year it falls on January 10.

This phenomenon is said to occur as couples look to make changes in their lives in the New Year after increased family time over Christmas. Financial pressures also undoubtedly play a part.

But Rhian, who served as chair of the West Midlands Resolution Committee from 2016-2019, said Divorce Day and the annual publicity around it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy and couples can feel pressured to start proceedings by talking to family lawyers for fear of delays if they don’t act swiftly.

Rhian warned that acting in haste can often lead to unnecessary conflict – and urged people to talk to reputable family lawyers which will strive to find constructive and innovative ways to resolve disputes.

Rhian said: “Barely a year goes by when the so-called Divorce Day isn’t in the press. The first working Monday after the Christmas and New Year holidays is inevitably going to be busy for solicitors as the offices have been largely closed for a period.

“But we don’t see any significant spike on Divorce Day when it comes to separation enquiries. In fact, our team have historically received more enquiries in December and February than January, with the January calls being more about Nuptial Agreements following engagements over the festive period.

“I think all the publicity serves to achieve is to make people feel like they have to act quickly for fear of missing out. This can result in people going with the first firm they speak to and sometimes going straight on the attack rather than seeking common ground with their spouse.”

In fact, Rhian speculated that the busiest period for divorce enquiries this year could come in April when the new no-fault divorce laws come into force. In the biggest shake-up to divorce laws for 50 years, it will be possible for married and civil partnership couples to obtain a divorce without blaming the other party.

Rhian added: “It might well be that people sit tight until April when they can divorce without apportioning blame. Many will consider it worth waiting what is now just weeks to start proceedings without that obstacle.”

Higgs LLP is committed to seeking constructive resolutions wherever possible. This is evident by the fact that nationally around 35 per cent of divorce cases end in court hearings, whereas Higgs’ family team issues court proceedings in only around 4 per cent of cases.

“We believe in a client-centred approach which starts with direct, honest and compassionate conversations,” said Rhian.

“We encourage people to think about how they have resolved conflicts in the past, even though problems appear bigger now.

“We want people to consider what they want to achieve and their objectives and to avoid kneejerk, emotional decisions.

“It can be a very stressful time, but if you can diffuse the anger and promote effective communication then you can start to unearth the common objectives and start by addressing short-term issues.

“Sometimes a roundtable discussion with our support in the background can make a huge difference in achieving a positive outcome.

“All of this is especially important if there are children involved as there is a long-term relationship which needs to survive, despite the relationship breakdown.”

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