As a family lawyer I am used to people asking at this time of year if it is true that January sees a sharp rise in the number of divorces. Each year my response is the same, that it is simply not true and therefore the so called Divorce D-Day is simply a myth.
When someone, or sometimes spouses together, decide that their marriage has come to an end, it is important that the decision is made at the right time. Whilst many may see the New Year as a time for new beginnings and a fresh start, it is important that when embarking on the journey of ending a marriage (or any relationship) it is done at the right time. No time is going to be easy or suit everyone, including children, but some planning on timing can be important.
We often say to clients that a decision to end a relationship does not happen overnight. Often people have been thinking about it for at least a year if not two. When there are children involved people often want to try and do it at a point which causes least disruption to them. It is important that each person is given some time to digest and reflect on decisions that are being made.
Is it really over?
As a member of Resolution (a community of family legal professionals who work with families and individuals to resolve issues in a constructive way), what is important to me is not only making sure the timing is right but also that the decision to end the marriage or relationship is right. As I subscribe to the Resolution Code of Conduct, I have a duty to discuss with a client the potential of reconciliation and whether some time out or therapy is the answer, rather than an end to the relationship. I work closely with a number of other professionals to make sure that I am able to signpost clients to get the right help and support that they need.
What is true is that no time is easy to end a relationship, especially if that decision is not a mutually agreeable one. However, what is key is how the breakdown of a relationship is managed. Whilst both parties may have a number of feelings such as guilt, upset, betrayal and grief, ensuring that the decisions about the next chapter in each individual's life is handled in the right manner is really important.
If the decision is made that the relationship has indeed come to an end, it is important that the options of how to resolve matters such as finances and parenting of children are agreed upon.
As a firm, we are strong advocates of trying alternatives to court, and place an emphasis on resolving matters as amicably as possible. This can include being supported by lawyers in dispute resolution settings or selecting and paying for a judge to assist. There are many different options available. It is not always a case that the matter has to proceed to court. Getting the route to resolution right is the key to getting things started in the right way.
However, unfortunately there are times where the only way a matter can be resolved is by way of a court application, but this is often a last resort. I would always discuss the options available with a client to make sure the right route is chosen for the right reasons.
New year can also be a time of different big decisions such as moving in together or getting married. Timing is just as key with both of these. If a couple are wanting to enter a prenuptial agreement then ensuring there is enough time to get advice, and follow the correct procedure to ensure it would be seen as a qualifying agreement, is very important.
When moving in together, one party may be contributing more financially and want to protect that contribution. Not rushing into a property purchase and making sure there is time to have discussions about these things is just as important.
So for me the Divorce D-Day is somewhat of a myth. Yes, there may be some people who feel they have reached the end of the line after the festive period, but making sure we can signpost them to reach the right decisions and go down the right path is key. Equally I hope that we can help people who are looking to embark on a new chapter of their life with marriage and purchasing properties together, and we would be happy to assist.
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