“Divorce Day” – Is this day a myth or reality?

6th January 2020

Each year, it seems, Family law solicitors are asked whether they experienced a sharp increase in new enquiries after Christmas. Indeed, the first working Monday after Christmas and New Year, is often called “Divorce Day” by the media.

This year “Divorce Day” falls on Monday 6th January and this is commonly thought to be a Family solicitor‘s busiest time of year.

The truth, however, is that business seems to simply continue as usual. Whilst we will likely be kept busy by catching up with the work for our existing clients, after the Christmas break, there does not seem to be a notable increase in new enquiries from prospective clients above the normal level of interest that we often experience during the course of the year.

Why is it, therefore,  such a common misconception that couples commonly look to divorce in early January? There is no obvious legal benefit to applying for divorce at this time of year and so it is often thought that the added pressure of the financial strain after Christmas, enforced family time and returning to work after a gloomy time of year adds an extra burden to couples in struggling relationships.

Relationship counselling services reportedly see a notable increase in enquiries during January, for example, which suggests that relationships are put under strain during the festive period. This does not seem to directly correlate with divorce applications or new client enquiries, in the experience of family many solicitors, though.

Many couples who separate will seek support from relationship counsellors and look for support and advice on communication. This often does not seem as stark or as final applying for divorce, though. Whatever the time of year, clients often come to see family lawyers once they have carefully considered their situation and have tried to make improvements to the way that they communicate and interact with their spouse. Therefore couples who separate over the Christmas period, like the many clients who we help throughout the year,  are unlikely to apply for divorce proceedings as a knee-jerk reaction and instead clients will often only instruct solicitors once they have attempted to address the difficulties in their relationship and sought guidance from family and friends at this difficult time, before they feel ready to commit to the legal process. Even if relationships are under particular strain at this time of year this does not necessarily lead to an increase in solicitor enquiries.

Largely, the press attention attracted to “Divorce Day” seems to fuel this myth. Each year newspaper articles resurface and claim that Divorce Day shows a spike in new clients making divorce enquiries. This often does not correlate with the experience of family solicitors in practice but nevertheless this has become part of the popular consensus.

In short, experience dictates that it is unlikely that family law solicitors will see a significant rise in new enquires on “Divorce Day”. It is, however, one of the common misconceptions that we encounter.

If you need advice from our Family Lawyers on divorce and separation, family mediation, cohabitation agreements, pre or post-nuptial agreements or on arrangements for children, parents and grandparents, contact us.

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