Family Mediation Week: Does Christmas Cause Divorce?
It is widely recognised by the media that January is the busiest month for divorces. Every year, family lawyers across the country are expected to see a surge in divorce enquiries after the Christmas break, but is this due to the breakdown of marriages as a direct result of the festive period?
Many family lawyers consider ‘Divorce January’ to be a myth and attribute the influx of enquiries to the closure of the Court and law firms for a substantial amount of time over Christmas and New Year, and the lack of communication throughout this period, rather than the pressures of Christmas itself.
In any event, divorces do not proceed immediately once Christmas is over. Time is often taken to get advice, and in some cases, mediation may take place between the parties to agree the way forward upon separation.
Applications must be prepared and submitted to the court, and this can take time. It is likely to be the case that ‘divorce day’ has come about because the Court are processing applications that have been made before or after Christmas and the decision to divorce was likely made significantly before Christmas happened.
Several sources consider March to in fact be ‘Divorce Month’. This would coincide with general timescales between separation and divorce proceedings. When looking specifically at divorce proceedings, rather than enquiries, January has actually been reported to be the second most inactive month for submitting divorce petitions.
Other sources suggest that September is the busiest month for divorces, due to the end of the school holidays and couples going ‘back to reality’ or the holiday being the ‘straw that breaks the camel’s back’. It is often suggested that divorce applications correspond with the academic year, rather than the calendar year with people wanting to get school holidays over before taking formal steps to progress their decision.
Covid19’s effect on relationships has been undeniable. The increase in time spent together and in close proximity for extended periods, financial stresses, health concerns, home schooling of children and employment worries has resulted in the breakdown of many marriages. One firm noted a 122% increase in divorce enquiries in the lockdown period, compared with the same time the year prior. It will be interesting to observe the trends that continue to arise from the pandemic and if they will alter the media’s perception of ‘Divorce January’.
Regardless of whichever the busiest month may be, divorce applications, as a whole, are decreasing and the divorce rate in the UK is the lowest it has been in almost half a century.
If you, or anyone you know, requires advice regarding divorce, separation or any other issue around relationship breakdown, do contact any member of the Family team for further help and information without any obligation.
All Family Lawyers at Band Hatton Button LLP are members of Resolution – First for Family Law (www.resolution.org.uk) and include a Resolution trained and Family Mediation Council Accredited Family Mediator and Collaborative Family Lawyers.