Is divorce a seasonal beast, luring its ugly head at pivotal
points in the family calendar, such as post-summer and Christmas
holidays? This often being the aftermath of the holiday to perhaps
Santorini, the family gathering which has been the inevitable
melting pot for the increase in tensions and the amplifier or
magnifier of disputes.
This is a complex question and the words of the 17th
Century poet John Donne spring to mind, 'Must to thy
motions lovers' seasons run' (The Sun Rising). In this
poem the sun was the centre of everything dictating love and life.
In the real world are we still hostage to such metaphysical
There must be something in the seasonal patterns observed by
family lawyers. The human mind is by its very nature mercurial,
influenced often by the virtues of dopamine and the influence of a
particular season. Does this mean that our moods, desire and
aspirations are seasonally pre-determined? Are there peak seasons
in which we prefer to do certain things?
Divorce, which is of course a drastic step, does take both
courage and commitment and often follows when the parties have
experienced spending time with each other out of their daily
routine. Holidays, which should be a time for rest and relaxation,
as well as potentially a better experience than the work
environment, are often a catalyst for divorce or separation.
Family lawyers traditionally find that in January when the
festivities of Christmas and/or New Year are over, their services
are more sought after than before Christmas when couples do not
want to 'rock the boat' or 'upset the children'.
The catalyst of a new calendar year is often an epiphany moment
which also occurs when children fly the nest or one or other party
retires. Naturally the long summer holidays which parents plan well
in advance and sacrifice valuable leave time to spend with each
other brings pressure to bear on relationships. How often does one
hear a loving parent comment that 'it is a pleasure being
back at work'? This does not always refer to the trials
and tribulations of being a parent but does in a lot of cases refer
to the inevitable boredom or stress experienced by spending time
with a spouse.
The age of the internet and heightened connectivity does not
assist with romance on holiday. It is at times like this the
carefully hidden private life of a spouse is now vulnerable to
discovery by the other spouse. Perhaps the second mobile phone
reveals a text from the lover or perhaps an alluring emoji to a
colleague which can be misconstrued. Indeed, more time together can
often be the enemy of marriage.
Some take into account children's school exams,
children's weddings, the birth of grandchildren and special
birthdays, so that the external appearance belies the true state of
the relationship. After the long summer holidays, the Christmas
period or other milestones, both parties can often unwittingly seek
legal advice without being aware of the fact that their spouse is
doing the same. If the holiday is the catalyst for divorce, it is
the revelation that lawyers have been consulted which can be the
starting gun for months of legal wranglings to achieve financial
The seasonal trends apply not only to patterns in divorce, but
also for pre- and post-nuptial agreements. Such agreements carry a
great deal of weight in the divorce courts if properly drafted.
Family lawyers observe trends for such agreements in spring and
summer when it is the season of love.
Both divorce and nuptial agreements herald a new dawn for lovers
and divorcees alike. Perhaps if we now acknowledge and address the
seasonable patterns and vulnerabilities this would assist in
preserving relationships rather than magnifying the
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While a request for a divorce may come as a shock, most people come to the realisation that if their spouse considers that the marriage is over then, perhaps after attending marriage counselling, there is no point fighting the inevitable.
There is no question that Mr and Mrs Owens are both unhappy with their current position, and the Court of Appeal judges were equally unhappy with the current legal position. The question is what should be done.
The highly unusual decision in the recent case of Owens v Owens, has served as a reminder of the Respondent's right to defend a Petition for divorce, and the Court's power to reject a Petition based on unreasonable behaviour...
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