‘Divorce Day’ is the first working Monday after the Christmas break.
It’s the date which the media like to publicise because they say it’s the day most divorce petitions were issued with the court.
While that may statistically have been true, it is not an accurate representation of how people divorce. The publicity of ‘divorce day’ will make you think that people have miserable Christmases and then start divorce proceedings as soon as the courts reopen under the ethos of ‘new year, new me’.
But is divorce day really after Christmas?
The reality is that people, particularly with children, tend to try to keep their home life stable over the long summer holiday. Once the children go back to school in September, they take legal advice and start the wheels in motion. But divorce isn’t an overnight decision and for the majority of families they agree to be as amicable as possible and work together to figure out who is going to do what and how.
Drafting a divorce petition collaboratively so they both know what’s going to be said before it is sent to the court, and starting talks about their physical separation as well as their financial separation all go on without court proceedings being trigger. As they know Christmas is coming, the groundwork tends to get started ‘behind the scenes’ between September and Christmas, but again, for the sake of the children, the divorce was not actually started until after Christmas.
Does the family summer holiday send couples over the edge?
The real ‘peak’ period for family lawyers tends to be September, with January being the next phase in those cases. The next phase in most cases is a few months after the initial discussions, hence January for those September enquiries. Divorce proceedings may begin (the formal process of dissolving the marriage), and either negotiations about their finances will come to fruition and settlement terms will be agreed, or those negotiations require external input either from a mediator, arbitrator or a judge. It is important to start divorce proceedings because if a financial settlement is reached you cannot formalise it by having it turned into an approved court order unless decree nisi has been pronounced, which is the middle stage of the divorce.
I would say that the previous statistics about divorce petitions being sent to the court on the first working Monday in January on “divorce day” are now outdated. This is because the government now has its own online facility for lay people to be able to apply for their divorce via the online portal, which makes starting proceedings far more accessible. Caution should be applied to anyone considering a DIY divorce online, getting legal advice first to understand the legalities and complexities is vital. We are increasingly being instructed to correct errors made by laypeople who started their own divorce proceedings online without fully understanding it.