Setting the Christmas scene for a positive separation20-Dec-2018

By Susan Alexander, Consultant Solicitor, Family and Mediation

While attention is focused on the country’s divorce from the European Union, and what the New Year will bring from the Brexit bargaining table, many families will be facing up to break-up issues closer to home.

Too often, the stress of trying to hold it together takes its toll on couples trying to manage one more family Christmas, especially if they know they are likely to be heading for the divorce courts once New Year arrives.

Commonly known as D-day or Divorce Day, the first day back after New Year is when family lawyers receive more enquiries than at any other time, but they suggest that talking it through and getting advice in a collaborative approach, can help to keep Christmas together-time more in the festive spirit.

It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s really important to talk it over. Getting some advice before you make any final decision over breaking up, whether separately or as a couple, could help ease the path ahead, whatever you decide to do as a result.

The focus these days is on mediation, so having a chat to understand your position, and the process involved, can provide some reassurance.

All divorcing couples are required to follow mediation before being allowed to take financial arguments or arguments about children to court. The aim is to focus on arrangements for children and the separating of finances away from the actual divorce proceedings and come up with an agreement that can form the basis for a formal consent order by the Courts.

But many communication difficulties and disagreements arise because the only grounds for divorce continue to be irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, with the associated fault-based reasons of adultery or unreasonable behaviour most likely to be given. The only way to avoid a fault-based divorce is by a period of separation of at least two years before issuing the divorce petition.

It’s hard enough trying to handle emotions when your marriage is in difficulty, and the current fault-based system doesn’t help with that, but if both of you can sit down with someone who can help you through the conversation, and explain the likely outcomes against your personal circumstances, it should help to ease any later mediation and defuse some of the stand-offs that may otherwise happen. It’s the unknown that is often the biggest challenge.

For more information about our Family Law services, please contact a member of the Family Law team on 01244 356 789 or email

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.