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‘Divorce Day’ and Christmas

By Sharron Hardman

Published In: Family - Divorce

For many families, Christmas is seen as something to look forward to, but if there are problems in a marriage, the festive season can simply emphasise those difficulties. The extra time you spend at home and the pressure you may feel under to enjoy yourself can weigh heavily on you.

For some couples, the stress of a difficult Christmas period can be the final straw and lead to divorce proceedings starting very soon afterwards. We explain why this is the case for many couples.

Do divorces really peak after Christmas?

The first working Monday of the year is seen as a key date on which many people take the first steps towards divorce. In 2020, that day will fall on Monday 6th January.

The thinking is that by this time, any lingering Christmas goodwill has faded and children have returned to school. Many people have felt for some time that their marriage is failing and now feel that a new year is as good a time as any for a new beginning.

This sudden peak in divorce rates has gathered a lot of media attention in recent years and has even been dubbed ‘Divorce Day’ in some circles. You may be wondering just how accurate such reports are.

In our experience of many years helping clients with family law matters, there is a slight peak in divorce enquiries in January. It is perhaps not as dramatic as the media would have you believe, but there does seem to be some substance to it.

So if you are considering a divorce after Christmas, rest assured that you are not alone and it seems there are good reasons why some people choose to do so.

Why do people start the divorce process straight after Christmas?

When you think about the run in to Christmas, it’s hard to avoid the festive spirit. If you see or hear an advert or visit a shopping centre, the Christmas theme is everywhere and it seems to begin earlier each year. This all sets an expectation that Christmas should be a special time of year and if all is not well in your marriage this is the last thing you need.

Then of course you have to spend Christmas with your spouse and possibly even their family as well. Instead of being a happy time for you, even thinking about the impending celebrations might be very stressful for you.

Some people will contact a solicitor before Christmas and confide in them that they have made up their mind already that this will be their last Christmas with their spouse. Some do this for reassurance that they are doing the right thing, whilst others want to get some legal advice before Christmas. That way they can worry less over Christmas and not be starting from scratch in the new year.

If you have made up your mind that you will start a divorce after Christmas, you may want to keep things as normal as you can until the new year especially if you have children to think of.

What should you do if you’re considering a divorce after Christmas?

In many respects, getting a divorce after Christmas is no different from any other time of year. It is still a very big decision with significant consequences and you should still ask yourself if you are doing the right thing and ensure that you have exhausted all other possibilities first.

If you decide before Christmas that your marriage can’t be saved, keep in mind that you may be spending most or all of the festive period with people that you can’t confide in. If that is the case, it can be helpful to arrange times where you can talk to a trusted friend. You might even want to take some legal advice before Christmas instead of waiting.

Alternatively, it may be during the Christmas period that you actually reach the conclusion that you no longer want to continue with your marriage. Many people do this, and if it should happen you should again ensure that you have the support of friends to take pressure off yourself. Although it may be your decision to end the marriage, that doesn’t mean it’s all your fault or that you should suffer over Christmas.

You may be unable to find suitable legal advice until the new year so it is important that you take any opportunities to speak with friends and relatives that you feel you can trust.

Life after a divorce

If you feel that this really is your last Christmas with your spouse then the New Year may bring fresh challenges such as where you may live, how you survive financially and how much time you may spend with your children.

However, with the right advice and support from family and friends you can plan and achieve a better future for yourself.

This article is not intended as legal advice – if you do need legal advice relating to divorce or any other family law matters, please contact us. Call 0800 138 0458 or email and we’ll be happy to help. Where appropriate, we will help you achieve an amicable, non-confrontational divorce that benefits all parties, including children.

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Sharron has worked in the legal sector for 35 years.  She is a Consultant Solicitor in Switalskis’ Family team.

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