While Christmas and New Year are meant to be happy times, the fact is that every year the beginning of January sees a spike in divorce proceedings as couples bite the bullet and resolve to split. This phenomenon has become so well established that in legal circles it is referred to as ‘Divorce Day’, with Monday 4 January expected to see this year’s peak.

Andrew Barton, partner in Stephens Scown LLP’s family law team, has experienced this many times. He said: “Sadly, while Christmas is meant to bring people together, often it just serves to drive them apart. The tensions of being cooped up together, the pressure to be having a ‘good time’, and the general stress not to mention expense involved, can push couples whose relationship was already rocky over the edge. When New Year arrives, the desire to make a fresh start leaves many people contemplating separation or divorce.”

Stephens Scown typically experiences a 60% rise in divorce enquiries and cases in January. Divorce is a difficult and traumatic time and as a result the firm has produced an online animation to help guide people through the issues they need to be thinking about.  Find out more about our family team or if you have any questions get in touch email family.exeter@stephens-scown.co.uk. Our thinking about divorce animation can be found below.  

Andrew Barton explained: “Having taken the decision to separate, the way forward can seem bewildering and complex. Many couples will have children to think about and most will have joint accounts, joint mortgages, shared expenses, a shared property – the prospect of untangling everything can be overwhelming.

“That’s why it’s vital to seek professional advice as early as possible. Many people put it off for as long as they can to keep costs down – or even try to do their divorce themselves online – but this usually proves a false economy. It often ends up costing more as when a lawyer is eventually brought in it takes more time to correct mistakes that have been made.” Delaying matters can sometimes bring with it significant tax consequences as well.

Divorce doesn’t have to mean court proceedings. There are alternatives such as through collaborative law or mediation, which can be quicker and cheaper, and which lawyers can advise on and facilitate.

Andrew said: “It’s important to explore all the options. That’s what we are here for – to find the most suitable way forward for each case and help our client get the best possible outcome so that they can rebuild and get on with their life again.”

If you have any queries or concerns and would like to contact the family team, then please call 01392 210700 or email family.exeter@stephens-scown.co.uk.