10 Jan 2022
Family & Matrimonial
If you’ve ever picked up a newspaper during your commute after the Christmas holidays, it’s likely that you’ll have come across the term ‘Divorce Day’. Almost all of the major news outlets across the UK have adopted this catchy slogan to promote the idea that enquiries for divorce surge on the first working Monday of the year. This year, ‘Divorce Day’ is due to fall on Monday 10th January, owing to the late bank holiday.
Predictably, social media has only added to the hype, with personalised adverts interrupting our morning scrolling sessions to remind us that if for whatever reason, we are unhappy, there is a solution.
However, if you happen to spend a little time on Twitter during this seemingly infamous 24 hours, you’ll likely see a different side to ‘Divorce Day’ – one in which a number of solicitors resist the notion, calling on others to do the same.
So what exactly is the deal with Divorce Day?
While I’m hesitant to mark this day on the calendar, there are a number of reasons why the 10th could play host to a slightly higher number of enquiries.
The obvious catalyst is Christmas. Some will commit to hosting one final family Christmas before initiating divorce proceedings, making January the first opportunity to instruct a solicitor. The trigger could also be the wider festive period, as extended periods of time spent at home, mounting financial pressures and a little too much merriment push already strained relationships to breaking point.
Societal pressures also play their part, as the start of a new year prompts a reflection of careers, finances, goals and overall happiness. For some, the ushering in of a new year may offer the chance to plan for a different future – one in which their partner is not present.
And of course, Divorce Day often marks the first day back in the office for many solicitors following the festive break. Clearing through the backlog of emails received while offices have been closed could cause a small peak in instructions.
However, there are a number of overlapping factors that serve to undermine the concept of ‘Divorce Day’.
First of all, the logistics simply don’t line up. To imply that an individual could contact a law firm, book an appointment and file a petition for divorce all within a single day is absurd.
While we may be efficient here at Harding Evans, we aren’t miracle workers! The reality is that it will take time to explore the various options and collate the necessary paperwork – add in the current backlog within the court systems and the concept of a 24-hour divorce is almost laughable.
Also, it’s worth remembering the severity of divorce proceedings, which yet again serves to undermine the ‘Divorce Day’ phenomenon.
I’ve been a solicitor for nearly 10 years and in that time, I’ve never had a client file a petition simply because it’s a brand new year. If that was their reasoning, my immediate reaction would be to dig deeper, ask them to reflect on their choices and signpost the array of alternatives available to them.
The media circus surrounding this day risks simplifying the complexities and sadness that surrounds divorce, trivialising what is for many, marks a life-changing moment as they seek out legal advice.
The final blow to ‘Divorce Day’ comes in the form of cold, hard statistics. The Ministry of Justice publishes quarterly statistics from the Family court – a quick look shows how the number of petitions issued is actually highest in Q3. This aligns closely with my own experiences, as my busiest periods of the year tend to fall between September and November. With children back in school following the summer holidays, many couples will look to initiate divorce proceedings.
While initial enquires or conversations surrounding divorce may increase slightly, to suggest that January 10th will witness more people get divorced than any of the other 364 days of the year, is simply not true.
More broadly speaking, I would like to advocate for an end to the term ‘Divorce Day’. The almost gleeful approach taken by some, as they weigh in on the matter across various daytime television programmes and radio broadcasts, perpetuates the unfair perception that lawyers thrive off the misery of others.
Any decent legal professional will encourage you to explore your options, including counselling and trial separation periods. Divorce is a time-consuming, emotionally draining and costly exercise, so should only be instigated when absolutely necessary. To state that solicitors thrive from these types of ‘calendar hooks’ undermines the commitment of so many who are acting in the best interest of their clients.
So this year, as I head back to the office armed with the last of the Christmas chocolate and a new scarf from Santa, I’ll be switching off any radio or television programme that hints at the idea of a ‘Divorce Day’, and I’d wholeheartedly encourage you to do the same.
Our expert and friendly team can advise you on all aspects of getting divorced and will help to minimise the stress and upset that inevitably comes with ending a marriage. For a confidential discussion about your situation, please contact the Family Law team on 01633 244233 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.