Divorce lawyer Donna Hart from The Family Law Company suggests there is another way to start 2021 rather than go straight for the split.
Every new year family lawyers talk about Divorce Day - the first Monday in January after the Christmas break is finished. This year it falls on January 4.
Traditionally it is the day when a spike is seen in divorce enquiries, attributed to the additional demands of the festive period when families are hyped up and emotionally pressured to live up to expectations – which often includes overspending.
This time round though, things are rather different. Donna explains “We’ve already spent a greater part of a year under phenomenal stresses caused by Covid-19, which has taken its toll on relationships and families. In fact, in November alone, enquiries we took in all areas of family law increased by 40 percent.
“So rather than highlight Divorce Day we’ve decided to take a rather different approach and look at ways that separation and divorce can potentially be avoided - or at least mitigated.”
Donna suggests couples who are struggling should first consider services such as counselling and mediation to help them work out their differences. “Those unhappy in a relationship may wonder how such services can help them, especially if they feel totally ignored by their partner. But often it is losing the ability to communicate that causes a relationship to crack. Having a neutral person involved allows couples to discuss such problems in a non-threatening way which could lead to issues being resolved and the relationship being able to continue.”
To help, The Family Law Company will signpost couples towards counsellors and mediators with relevant, knowledgeable experience. However, even with counselling, for some couples it may well be the end of the road. “If this is the case then it is important to find a lawyer with a commitment to keeping the process as amicable and cost-effective as possible,” advises Donna. “Avoiding conflict in divorce is key, especially when children are involved.”
It is sensible to meet with more than one lawyer to make sure that you feel confident in their ability to represent you. Many family law firms offer a free initial appointment where you can ask questions and find out about costs.
“In these unprecedented times it is worth taking a step back and trying to be objective about the reality of your situation. If you can avoid getting caught up in Divorce Day this year, then it’s worth a shot,” says Donna.
The Family Law Company’s free online divorce guide ‘We’re Only Human’ includes information on counselling, mediation and the divorce process and can be downloaded here