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Monday 04 January 2021 was apparently ‘Divorce Day’. It was the start of the first full working week in the new year, which is when divorce lawyers supposedly see a significant rise in people seeking advice about separation or divorce. 

So, do divorces peak in January? From our experience, no, but the number of enquiries about divorce and separation does increase. 

The decision to delay seeking advice until the new year is especially common for couples with children. Many have one last family Christmas before ultimately deciding to separate. Whilst they may be struggling with the marriage before the holiday season, if they have children, couples commit to giving them what they hope will be one last happy holiday as an intact family.

‘Divorce Day’ like no other

This year, ‘Divorce Day’ coincided with the Prime Minister announcing that the UK was to yet again be forced into a national lockdown, further exacerbating an already challenging domestic situation. Tensions are high with many couples in conflict about juggling homeschooling and childcare and arguing over whose Zoom meeting should take priority. Differing attitudes towards COVID risks, keeping to the regulations and the impact on vulnerable relations have also been cited as the final straw.

We must not forget that the lockdown has had a devastating impact on those in abusive relationships. Women’s Aid has reported that lockdown restrictions have stopped those suffering domestic abuse from accessing the support they need, enabling abusers to isolate them. 

The third national lockdown also falls in deep winter, in the darkest days. This combined with financial worries and concerns about the newest and more infectious strains of the virus further compound the stresses we are under.  

The pandemic has had a negative impact on many people’s lives but in some marriages, it has been unexpectedly positive. Working from home has, for many, provided a better work/life balance. Couples are no longer like ships in the night. They are appreciating a little extra time in bed rather than having to deal with the early morning rush hour commute, a fairer sharing of household chores and spending more time with children and pets. The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have made people reflect on what really matters. 

Is now a good time to divorce?

This time around, we have access to the court’s digital service, allowing divorces to be processed quickly. Courts have moved swiftly, embraced technology and adjusted well, including the use of remote hearings wherever possible and practicable. 

The housing market remains active and estate agents are open. People in England are able to move home, and for the time being, removal firms, tradespeople and estate agents can still operate by going inside homes. 

The reality is that whilst the numbers of people seeking divorce advice peaks in January, every month is divorce month. Christmas is hectic and can put people and relationships under pressure. Emotions often run high and if a person is already unhappy in their marriage, lockdown will act as a catalyst. 

The ‘best’ time to divorce is when a person thinks they have done everything to make the marriage work. There is no good time to divorce. If you are going to do it, January is as good a time as any. It is no more or less painful than any other month. It’s a very personal decision.

How our family solicitors can help

Whilst many of us are working from home, our family law solicitors have all the technology needed to enable us to continue to advise our clients. We are conducting meetings by telephone and video calls. We are here to help and to protect your position and can advise you as to your rights and responsibilities.

We want to help you to protect what matters to you. Take advice early so that you are fully equipped for the decisions you need to make.

Guide to divorce

You might be worried about what is involved in divorce proceedings and have lots of questions such as, how much does a typical divorce cost? What will happen to your money, your house and other valuable possessions? How will this affect your children?

To help, our family solicitors have produced a useful step-by-step guide, which will walk you through all your options surrounding divorce and sets to answer some of the most frequently asked questions we receive from separating couples.

You can download a copy of our free guide to ‘Divorce: What you need to know’ here.

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