It’s nearly Divorce D-day but does it really exist? And, if so, can we really blame the turkey?
Not a year goes by without a newspaper article being written about the arrival of Divorce Day – the supposedly busiest day of the year for family lawyers, which falls on the first day that law offices re-open after the winter break.
The logic behind the above theory is simple: after a concentrated period of time together, couples apparently rush to start divorce proceedings at the first opportunity as they can no longer stand being married to each other.
But is this truly the depressing reality of January in the UK? Or is it simply a media fallacy created to fill the pages of the newspapers at a time when not much else is going on?
Can it really be the case that a few arguments about who should cook the turkey or lay the table result in people deciding to pull the plug on their marriages?
Commenting on the matter, Katie McCann, head of the Family Law department at Kuits, states, “I have been working as a family lawyer for 13 years and the reality is that a week cooped up at home together is highly unlikely to be the reason a couple decide to split up. In my opinion, there is quite a lot of creativity in relation to the media’s take on Divorce D-Day. That isn’t to say that January is not a busy time for divorce lawyers, it’s just rarely as much of a spike as the media portray.”
So, if it isn’t the turkey that is causing break-ups all around the country, then what exactly is it that sees an apparent surge in divorce enquiries in early January?
Explaining the demographics, Katie continues: “Whilst it is unlikely that a couple will decide to split up over a few disagreements over Christmas, these arguments may well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back or the final nail in the coffin, to put it another way. Ultimately, nobody is going to divorce over burnt vegetables, but a miserable time at Christmas may put things into perspective for some people. At a time where families should be at their happiest and enjoying the festive season, a spouse who spends the entire holiday miserable and quarrelling may realise it is indeed time to end their relationship.”
More likely than not, the majority of people making appointments with family lawyers at the first opportunity in January will have been considering the option of divorce for quite some time before.
With the arrival of the New Year comes all of our resolutions and the idea that we can ‘start afresh’. For many, this brings the opportunity to end negative relationships before the ‘clean slate’ mentality begins to wear off.
Whilst media attention focuses on the January period, Katie believes this is not in fact the most hectic period of time for divorce lawyers.
Commenting on this, she points out, “Everyone speaks about the post-Christmas rush for family lawyers, but fail to mention that this is probably only the second busiest time of year for us. Without a doubt, we have the largest influx of new clients in September each year once children have returned to school after the six-week summer break.”
With stay-at-home parents often feeling overwhelmed by the considerable length of time spent with their children, and working parents having to deal with the stress of making suitable childcare arrangements, this can result in feelings of dejection and bitterness towards their other halves. Of course, as with divorces that occur after Christmas, arguments during the summer holidays can generally only be said to enhance pre-existing issues, as opposed to being the sole reason for the separations; however, the significant length of the summer holiday period provides a greater chance for the squabbling to progress.
With Christmas Eve here, let’s hope that everyone enjoys the festive season and that the media can be proved wrong. The Kuits Family team would like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
Now Christmas has been and gone let’s hope that everyone enjoyed the festive season and that family law offices aren’t inundated with unhappy spouses.
The Kuits Family team would like to wish everyone a very happy New Year.
Katie McCann is head of family law and in-house counsel at Kuits Solicitors in Manchester City Centre. She has a special interest in resolving high value relationship breakdown disputes.