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If you are considering filing for divorce in January, what should you do?

The first working Monday of January is widely dubbed ‘Divorce Daybecause of the spike in divorce enquiries law firms receive on that day. This often follows a period of reflection over the holidays and when people decide to make a change or take some action looking ahead in to the New Year. If you are considering filing for divorce in January, what should you do?

Why do so many couples decide to divorce in January?

Many look forward to Christmas and New Year all year.  It is a time for getting together and spending time with family and friends but for those who may already be thinking about divorce, all this time together can be particularly difficult.

Sometimes this is because a couple have already decided to separate but agree to have Christmas together for the children, having decided the New Year should mark a new chapter in their lives and for the family moving forward..

Sometimes it is because the festive period has brought underlying difficulties to the surface.  There are several reasons this can happen, including:.

  • Proximity

The reality of their situation may have set in whilst spending so much time together in a relatively confined area making couples confront unresolved issues.

  • Stress

Preparing for Christmas is not easy.  There is often much to do in a short space of time and if you are also working, this can prove even more stressful, and stress can force problems to the surface.

  • Financial worries

Just as Christmas takes a lot of organising, it can also be expensive.  If money worries are already lingering, the additional pressure Christmas creates – including worries about repaying any money borrowed or spent on credit – can easily trigger conflict.

What should you do if you are considering divorce?

If you are considering divorcing in January for whatever reason, there are several things to consider:

  • Your financial situation 

Much of the divorce process revolves around reaching a financial settlement.  This is the legal term for the agreement you and your ex-partner must come to on how your money, property and other assets will be separated.

Unless you have a pre-nuptial agreement in place, for a longer marriage, the starting point for this negotiation will be to split all your assets equally.  This will be tempered by your particular circumstances, such as respective incomes, requirements for living expenses and childcare arrangements.

It is also important to remember that after your divorce, you will have no additional claim on your ex-partner’s income (or vice versa) so you should also carefully consider what will need to happen with the family home, pensions, savings, stocks and shares and other financial assets.  These may need to be sold or liquidated to aid their division and/or cover future financial commitments.

Another aspect to bear in mind is a traditional court-led divorce can be expensive.  If you and your partner are still able to communicate, there are alternative routes to help you reach an agreement.  Mediation, for example, will be less confrontational, less stressful, less expensive, and more productive for some couples.

  • Put your children first

If you have children, place their best interests ahead of your own.  This includes minimising their exposure to ongoing disagreements and, more pointedly, any blame you may be trying to apportion to each other.

Unless there are specific reasons why it can’t happen, a child should ideally continue to have a relationship with both their parents.  This means finding a way to ensure:

  • The right level of contact for you, your ex-partner, and your children
  • The right living arrangements for your children
  • You share ongoing parental responsibilities (for you and your children)
  • Your children continue to receive the financial support they need

Again, mediation can often provide an alternative forum in which to answer these questions and reach an agreement away from the pressure of court.

  • Take legal advice 

If you are considering a divorce, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.

While there will be a cost, this will be outweighed by the value and support a solicitor will provide.  They will immediately explain what your options are and make sure you are in a position from which you can achieve the best possible settlement if things progress.

They will also help you avoid making mistakes that could impact your case and prevent you from reaching the outcome you want for you and your children.

  • Make sure you have a support network 

Divorce is never easy.  It will be stressful.  It may also be confrontational and even hostile at certain stages.  This means you must make sure you have a network of family and friends, or professional support, to give you the support you’ll need to take care of your own wellbeing.

If you are considering a divorce in January and would like an initial discussion in total confidence with one of our hugely experienced family lawyers, please email us or call us on 020 8866 1820 today.