The Myth of ‘Divorce Day’
By Ceri Thomas – KBL Solictors
The press report that there is a day in early January called ‘Divorce Day’. According to the press Lawyers eagerly await this day, like a post-Christmas treat, as it represents a spike in new enquiries from potential clients whose New Year’s Resolution is to get divorced.
A cursory glance at Twitter will quickly reveal that the vast majority of family lawyers are in fact shunning the notion of ‘divorce day’ by highlighting the fact that whilst January typically sees the number of divorce enquiries rise, as relationships that are already starting to show cracks break down with the added pressure and expense the festive season brings, people seeking to divorce rarely take the step into a solicitor’s office without a significant amount of soul searching. Even those who are ready to press ahead and start the divorce process have usually had extensive advice, from family, friends and professionals before embarking upon the process.
Taking the first important step to make an enquiry and attend an appointment is just that; the first step of many. Divorces are rarely issued on the day of the first appointment with a family lawyer. At a first appointment a family lawyer should always encourage you to consider whether the marriage is actually at an end. For some this is a decision which has already been made but this certainly it is not always the case. For those who have already satisfied themselves that the marriage cannot be saved, a family lawyer will advise that it is rarely a helpful approach to simply send off the divorce papers without further ado. Whilst there will always be some exceptional circumstances that require that divorce proceedings are issued urgently; for example due to jurisdictional disputes or very poor health, the majority of divorces will benefit from a more measured approach.
For couples who have children or financial affairs to deal with there is a huge focus on trying to reach an agreement without going to Court. Again, this is not always possible but it will certainly be more difficult to achieve a negotiated agreement if the party who starts the divorce process does so in a knee jerk manner. The tone of the first interaction with your spouse can set the tone of the whole process.
The reality for most couples is that the divorce is the most straightforward element of their separation. The divorce process is broadly the same for every single divorce in England and Wales and, subject to regional Court delays, usually takes 4-6 months. We have created a factsheet that outlines the grounds for divorce and the process which you may find useful – Divorce – The Process & The Grounds.
From a legal perspective, the main variation relates to the manner in which the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is evidenced, rather than any difference in the process.
Many people are keen to avoid slinging mud and making allegations about the others behaviour. Unfortunately, for most this is the only way to proceed as, having reached the decision that the marriage is at an end, the prospect of a two year wait to start proceeding simply to avoid making allegations about the other person’s behaviour is untenable.
If a divorce is to proceed by making allegations about behaviour it is good practice to try to agree the allegations which are to be made, either through solicitors or directly by the couple. Some couples have been known to sit down together and prepare the allegations that one is to make about the other. The rationale for trying to agree the allegations which are to be made is that it can help to smooth the way for discussions in relation to children or the division of matrimonial assets or at the very least reduce some of the hostility.
The post-Christmas return to work signals an increase in enquiries for many industries, including family lawyers and presumably gyms or personal trainers who can support those whose resolutions focus on getting fit. As with all first enquiries, a first meeting or even a first workout at the gym does not automatically equate to the start of divorce proceedings or meeting one’s resolution to ‘get fit’. Whilst it may be agreed that there is an increase in enquiries there remains a strong feeling amongst family lawyers that divorce day is a myth which is harmful and indeed distasteful to perpetuate.
At KBL Solicitors LLP our family law specialists have many years’ experience in all aspects of divorce and family law. You can be assured of confidential, professional and personal advice on all matters relating to you and your family.
MMB Reader Offer: If you are considering separating contact Solicitor, Ceri Thomas today for your free no obligation consultation on 01204 527777.