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More Couples Expected To Make A Fresh Start In 2012

Divorce Figures And Annual Trends Hint At A New Year Of Big Decisions


Family law experts have said that many couples are once again expected to make a new start their top priority for 2012, just weeks after research revealed the divorce rate across England and Wales is rising.

January 3rd, the first working day of the year, is traditionally the busiest of the year for family solicitors with divorce enquiries flooding in, both from married couples whose relationships have deteriorated over a fractious festive period and those who have been considering a separation but held off until after Christmas for the sake of their children.

Earlier this month, the Office for National Statistics revealed that 119,589 divorces were finalised across 2010. A 4.9 per cent rise from 2009, the trend demonstrates that fears about the economic climate are not stopping people from reassessing their lives.

Because of this, family law specialists at Irwin Mitchell have warned that 2012 could prove to be a year of big decisions for many households.

Alison Hawes, a Partner and family law specialist at the national law firm, said: “Rather than seeing the economic climate as a reason not to split, we are seeing a number of recent enquiries in which financial issues have been the catalyst for people to reassess their relationships.

“The Christmas period should undoubtedly be a happy time for couples and their children but sadly the strain of spending more time at home, as well as the general stress of organising festive and New Year events, can prove to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back in many scenarios.

“We talk to many people who have decided to divorce after having a stressful Christmas and advise them to think very carefully to ensure they are not making a rash decision by ending their relationship.

“However, the latest ONS figures show that divorce is gaining much more attention and may be on the minds of many people long before the festive period this year.”

Previous research by Irwin Mitchell has shown that many people raise the issue of separation with a partner long before contacting a lawyer. It also revealed that in most cases the decision to divorce is a mutual one.

Alison outlined: “It goes without saying that the reasons for divorce can vary significantly from case to case.

“For some younger couples, it may stem from disagreements over whether to have children. Alternatively, older couples might grow apart following ‘empty nest syndrome’ – when children have grown up and left the family home. For all couples, relationship breakdown may have been caused by arguments and disagreements over money.

“However, despite these various reasons for a split, we would always urge any couple to seek professional legal advice at the earliest opportunity.

“This is particularly important as it can ensure people are advised of the options which are most suitable to their situation, whether it is two people wanting to sit amicably to discuss their plans through mediation or those who have no choice but to go to court in order to gain access to what they are entitled to.

“Financial constraints are likely to play a key part in how people choose to finalise the terms of a divorce at present and professional advice from a legal expert can play a role in ensuring decisions are made in the fairest way possible.”