It is well known that the first working Monday in January is dubbed “National Divorce Day” and you might also have read articles alleging that the Christmas period is to blame for the rise in January divorce rates.
Whilst it is often the case that Family solicitors see a rise in divorce enquiries in January, it is perhaps not quite accurate to say that Christmas is to blame per se. Rather, Christmas can be the tipping point for those already in fractured relationships and let’s not forget the message that New Year brings of a “new year, new start”.
So it might not be to blame but why might Christmas trigger divorce?
Well, there is often a strong focus on the children over the Christmas period and differences in parenting approaches can become more apparent.
Intense periods of time spent with extended family can highlight weaknesses in a relationship, marriage or civil partnership but also intense financial strain during this time of year can also lead to increased pressure on couples and parents.
Keeping up appearances can be exhausting and may actually make existing issues much worse. Also alcohol consumption during this time of year can amplify and/or worsen existing problems.
A lack of, or change in, routine over the Christmas break can intensify issues in a marriage, relationship or civil partnership.
What can we expect of divorce rates going into 2024?
According to the most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the overall rates of divorce climbed by almost 10% in 2021. A total of 113,505 divorces were granted in England and Wales, a 9.6% increase compared with 2020. But, interestingly, according to the .GOV website, 30,154 divorce petitions were filed in January to March 2022, down 2% on the equivalent quarter in 2021.
However, since the above figures were published, no fault divorce has been introduced (April 2022). No fault divorce means that there is no longer a requirement to give reasons, i.e. fault or wrongdoing attributed to one spouse, for the marriage breakdown. Not only that but the cost-of-living crisis has put families under immense financial pressure and it doesn’t yet seem that an end is in sight as interest rates continue to stay high. We eagerly await the new statistics from the ONS.
Whatever time of the year, if you are thinking of initiating a divorce and would like advice on how you might begin negotiating your finances and any arrangements for your children, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our friendly family law team.