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New Year Divorce Rush To Continue

Lawyer Warns Bad Weather Could Multiply Problems At Home


A leading family lawyer is expecting the traditional annual rush of divorce enquiries in the New Year to continue in 2011, with the bad weather potentially ‘multiplying the effect’ of problems over the holiday period.

If 2011 follows the trends of previous years then family lawyers are likely to receive the most enquiries on 4 January, the first working day back at the office after the New Year.

New research by Irwin Mitchell also shows that many people will have already decided to separate over Christmas before contacting divorce lawyers in January.

49 per cent of divorcees surveyed by the law firm sought advice after agreeing a separation, and in almost a quarter of cases (23 per cent) the decision to instigate divorce proceedings was mutual.

But Peter Morris, Partner in the family law team at Irwin Mitchell is warning couples that they should ensure they consider all options before finalising a divorce, especially where children are concerned.

Morris said: “Many people talk to us in January after making New Year resolutions and vow to bring unhappy relationships to an end. But the first thing a sensitive family lawyer will do is discuss the situation with their client as the last thing we want is people to rush into decisions that they may later regret.

“The first working day of the year is always one of the busiest days for divorce lawyers. The Christmas period should be a happy holiday season but for many couples it only serves to widen the cracks of their relationships.

“Many clients report that spending more time at home can increase tension between family members bringing matters to a head. The bad weather and travel chaos this winter may also aggravate and multiply any problems as the snow and ice confines people to their homes and may make visiting other family members difficult.”

The research by Irwin Mitchell also shows that disagreements in divorce proceedings are mostly financial or related to children and in some cases are driven by the fear of an unfair settlement.

Morris says that more than ever financial constraints will come into play with many people using a more collaborative and mutual approach as they recognise that neither side has the money available to ‘fight’ through the courts.

Morris said: “Individual divorces vary hugely and therefore the requirements for legal advice also vary. For some people separation and divorce is an amicable process where all that is needed is professional assistance to ensure the divorce is managed properly and in accordance with the law.

“For others, there is a degree of conflict and both sides will be looking for solicitors who can best represent their interests.

“At Irwin Mitchell we have a regional network of highly experienced solicitors who offer professional advice on the most appropriate way forward in each individual situation is that mediation, working collaboratively or issuing court proceedings.

“There is a common and unfortunate misconception that once solicitors are involved the parties must ‘put their boxing gloves on’. This is not always the case and there are alternatives such as a collaborative approach which is more of a sensitive discussion about the divorce terms.”