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Divorce is a seasonal trend….

Divorce is a seasonal trend….

It’s that time of year again when the Press get all excited about relationship breakdowns and print articles with eye catching headlines like the Daily Mail’s “How holidays can kill a marriage” or The Guardian’s “Modern Divorce: the rules of splitting up”. This summer it’s all about some recently published research from an American university which shows that over a 15 year period there was a peak in divorces in March and August.

This is will not come as a great surprise to anyone working in family law. We often see people for the first time just after the big winter and summer holidays. Couples will want to get the family holiday out of the way before considering a new chapter in their life. Usually after that initial meeting there is a quiet period where those clients will consider the advice given to them, their options and the best timing for the family to start the process. It’s quite common for divorce lawyers to launch their marketing campaigns around D Day (divorce day – the first working day back after the Christmas break) to coincide with these patterns.

Although raising awareness of the advice and support available to a person considering separating from their partner is not a bad thing, I find the gimmicky, flashy press articles that appear around the same time to be very counterproductive. Recently I’ve read articles in the papers encouraging people to do their divorces themselves, to share their experiences through social media, use various new apps, celebrate their divorces, or get it over and done with in a weekend.   Although at first glances these might all seem like good ideas, every divorce or separation is different and there is never a ‘one option fits all’ scenario.

For example – following his divorce Gary Lineker encourage the public to bypass lawyers and do their own divorces. A recent survey found that 40% of people no longer use solicitors in their divorces. But this is not usually due to a personal choice, rather the result of Legal Aid cuts and people no longer being able to afford legal advice. People who represent themselves in divorce cases may not get the outcome they deserve and having one person representing themselves will slow down the process and increase the costs of the person who does have legal advisers as they will have to shoulder the majority of the work.

As for social media and celebrating a break up, this will depend on the individual. This may be a great form of support and a fun way of achieving what our American cousins call ‘closure’. However bear in mind that separating couples will often go through the same emotional cycle as a grieving person – and everyone goes through that process at their speed, children included. Discussing your life on social media or organising a ‘divorce party’ might affect other family members in ways that will cause difficult to repair damage. And of course one should not discount the affect this might have on parties who are engaging in hard fought negotiations for money or their children.

There are always new tools to help couples negotiate quickly. I’ve heard of several apps recently (Splitsville and Amicable spring to mind) which can help couples not only negotiate the terms of their settlements but also provide emotional support. This of course does not provide tailored advice to the individuals and they cannot know whether or not their settlement is not only fair but adequate. Then there is the Divorce Hotel, a Dutch/American idea whereby couples attend a weekend retreat where a lawyer helps them mediate a settlement within 48 hours. Mediation in itself is brilliant tool to help couples reach solutions following separation but 48 hours is not enough time to ensure the proper due diligence is done and advice sought. And of course it runs the risk of pressuring people into deals they simply do not want.

My advice is don’t listen to what the press has to say and consider any new-fangled, trendy ‘helpful’ ideas with a pinch of salt. Take legal advice first and foremost and then take your time making your decision. Divorce and separation is not a seasonal trend – regardless of what the papers say.



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