The ‘Divorce Day’ Myth
5 January 2016 by Simon Osborn
Yesterday, the first day back at work after the festive period has, for the past few years, been labelled ‘Divorce Day’ by the media. This day allegedly brings a peak in divorce enquiries for family lawyers.
Newspapers and the media in general seem to push this point. The Guardian has cited research undertaken by the Co-operative Legal Services under the headline ‘Divorce inquiries predicted to rise more than 300% in January’. They said they anticipated a 332% rise in divorce inquiries throughout January, compared with the previous four months. Their research on 500 divorcees showed men (27%) are marginally more likely than women (23%) to hold off from instigating proceedings until after a family occasion. They said that overall, women are more likely to begin a conversation about separating than men, with more than half (55%) of divorced women saying this was the case, compared with a third of divorced men.
Whilst there may well be an increase in divorce enquiries after the festive period, it seems that this may well be exaggerated. Resolution, the body of family lawyers and other professionals committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes, reports that a poll of their members taken at the outset of 2015 found that 82% did not report a spike in enquiries in the first week of January.
There does appear to be a substantial increase in people searching for information online about family law and separation during January. In light of this, Resolution believes that focus should be shifted from sensationalising “Divorce Day” to ensuring families have access to appropriate and balanced information about managing separation in a way that minimises conflict and the impact on children.
Yesterday, the chair of Resolution, Jo Edwards said:
“We do know that January is the time when online searches for information about divorce and separation reach their peak. The festive season can be difficult for many families, fraught as it is with expectations and obligations; and indeed many have already decided before Christmas that they wish to take steps to separate, but hold off doing so until the New Year for the sake of the family. But to dub today “Divorce Day” trivialises the very painful and difficult decisions couples make when they separate. In fact, 82% of Resolution members polled reported that they did not see any immediate spike in new cases or enquiries at the beginning of 2015, which suggests that most people are looking for information initially, rather than taking immediate action on 1 January.”
“Many of these people may not go on to separate – some will benefit from counselling support such as that offered by Relate. For those that do separate, I would advise exploring a lower-conflict dispute resolution channel such as mediation, collaborative practice or arbitration, which can minimise the impact of separation on children and future relationships. If your New Year’s resolution is to separate, there is a better way to do it.”
Resolution offer valuable advice on the issues surrounding separation and parenting. The advice and guides can be found here.
The Ministry of Justice is also currently promoting a campaign supporting separating families. Their website contains some really useful information and resources that could benefit those currently dealing with separation.
For further information and advice regarding divorce and separation and the various ways of resolving disputes in a non confrontational way, please click here.