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Do people really rush to divorce at the beginning of a new year?

29 January 2018 Written by Catherine Dow Category: Family Law
You will have seen various newspaper articles in January about ‘Divorce Day’. The suggestion is, repeated as each year comes in, that people fall over themselves to issue divorce petitions on the first working day of the year. This story runs in the press with regular monotony as each new year dawns, but what are the facts and figures? Family Court quarterly statistics actually reveal that, in 2017, 34.1% of petitions were issued between January and March, 32.6% between April and June and 33.3% between July and September. The final quarter figures for 2017 are not yet published, but the information already revealed suggests that there is no ‘spike’ in January. Interestingly, online divorce searches surge in January. However, there are similar peaks in May and August. Searches and enquiries do not always lead to a petition being issued very soon afterwards (or at all). The speed at which people move on their divorces varies enormously. Some make an enquiry to a solicitor just as the signs are becoming visible that there are problems in the marriage, and these people wish to find out what life after divorce is likely to hold for them. For others, a visit to a solicitor is the last resort after long periods of counselling or other professional help. It has been suggested that those couples who have explored every option available and feel they have tried their best to save the marriage, are more likely to have an amicable separation and be more able to deal pragmatically and sensibly with the financial aspects of the case. Conversely, there are times when a divorce is not a mutual decision and one party, high on emotion, might decide (fuelled by the sort of media storm described) to rush into a decision before the other party to the marriage is ready. This is more likely to lead to acrimonious proceedings, or even a hasty decision which could  be regretted later. It is to be hoped that in matters that are so personal, people will make their decisions about ending a marriage, free from the pressure of frenzied media reports.

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