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Why January really starts in November for divorce lawyers

One of the busiest times of the year for a family lawyer is January. There are more new divorce clients than at any other time of the year. This is often attributed to the pressure of the family being together at Christmas. Yule being the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The reality is a little different. We witness a rise in divorce enquiries every November. A lot of marriages fail following a gradual breakdown over months or years. It is the onset of Christmas (adverts featuring happy families) and perhaps the darker days that cause an unhappy partner to decide finally that their relationship is at an end. Quite a few will make a conscious choice not to ruin a family’s Christmas (especially if they have children) and will take the first and decisive steps in January.

A lot of the enquiries we receive at this time of year are preliminary. People seeking early stage advice and a sounding board as to what the next steps and options might be to start the process of bringing a marriage to an end.

Clients often tell us that they benefitted from taking early stage advice. It helped them give proper consideration to the following:

  • Financial cost of divorce. Divorce has significant financial consequences. A couple may be reasonably affluent together, but one party might be far poorer by themselves after separation. In some cases, once the financial reality is known, remaining in an imperfect marriage may be the least worst option.
  • Support network. Who around can provide practical and emotional support in the days and weeks after news breaks of the decision to separate?
  • Where a couple have children, thought needs to be given to contact time, and practical issues like accommodation and providing them with support and continuity.
  • Separation strategy. In practical terms how will you tell your partner you want a divorce and, following that, what is the right method to enable a negotiated settlement to be reached?

Christmas in a failing marriage will not be the best of times. The immediate pain may be tempered by knowing a plan is coming together for moving things forward in January; to close one chapter and open a new, happier and optimistic one.

We are always available to give the benefit of our experience to people who are unhappy in a relationship and want some guidance on their options going forward. Contact a member of the Downs Family team and see if we can help.  


Terina Farnan

Terina Farnan

Senior Associate Solicitor

Tel: +44 (0) 1932 588581

Office: Cobham

Email: t.farnan@downslaw.co.uk