January has become known as 'Divorce Month' in the media, thanks to a reported increase in enquiries relating to divorce and separation during the month. But what should you do if you’re dealing with divorce this New Year?
The New Year can bring up a range of feelings and emotions for people. This may be a prompt for resolving relationship issues or the right time to go ahead with plans to separate.
Whether this is a mutual decision or has been initiated by one spouse, it can be hard to know what you should do next. Understanding the practicalities and getting the right support can help you move forward over the coming months.
Why is January known as 'Divorce Month'?
January is traditionally considered to be a peak point in the year for couples looking for advice on filing for a divorce. There are often many reports in the media labelling this as ‘Divorce Month’, with the first Monday in January known as “Divorce Day” due to a surge in enquiries relating to divorce and separation on the day.
This is reflected in online search trends, with January showing a consistent spike in searches on the topic of ‘divorce’ over recent years.
There are several reasons why this might be the case. The festive period can be an emotional and stressful time for many, with family and financial pressures made worse by the current cost of living worries. These difficulties can highlight or deepen any problems in our relationships, while it’s also common to reevaluate our lives and priorities as we face the New Year. This can trigger decisions about relationships and a desire to move on.
On the other hand, many couples who have already decided to separate will postpone their split until after Christmas, especially if there are children involved.
Of course, January isn’t the only point in the year when people are thinking about divorce. The truth is, whatever the season, divorce can be a daunting experience, causing many conflicting emotions.
What to do if you're dealing with divorce this January
While everybody’s situation will be different, focusing on the key practicalities can provide a useful starting point to help you understand your next steps.
- Agreeing arrangements for your children
It’s important that you and your partner or spouse have communicated between yourselves that you have decided to separate before broaching the subject with your children. You’ll want to maintain as much normality as possible, so discuss arrangements to allow you both to spend time with them and be involved in day-to-day tasks such as the school run and homework.
You should also make sure your children’s school or nursery is aware of the situation and has contact details for you both.
- Discussing your living arrangements
Decide whether you’re going to remain in the same house or if one of you is moving out. You will need to consider the financial impact, as it’s likely two incomes have been paying for one household and this will now be split over two. Your living arrangements will also affect how you spend time with any children.
Bear in mind the arrangements you put in place now may need to last for some months while matters are finalised and, if you own your home and are looking to sell it, until the sale has completed and any equity is divided between you.
- Looking at your finances
Making a full financial disclosure is an important part of the divorce process, so it’s useful to have an idea about this early on. Take steps to identify your income and expenditure, as well as the assets you own solely and jointly with your partner or spouse, or with a third party.
You can start to compile a list of all bank and savings accounts, property, pensions, other assets and liabilities. If you own a property, you will need to find out how much it’s worth and obtain an up-to-date mortgage statement, which sets out whether there are any early repayment penalties.
This will help you build a clearer picture of your finances as you move forward.
- Taking care of your wellbeing
It’s normal to experience a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the separation and divorce process so make use of your support network and take time to look after yourself. It can also be helpful to think about what you’d like to achieve with the divorce and how you’d like to see life in 12 months from now.
- Understanding the divorce process
The 'no fault divorce' came into effect in April 2022. This aims to make the process more straightforward, as there's no longer any need to prove the marriage break down using the grounds for divorce. Instead, you provide a joint statement that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, without citing any blame or fault. You can find out more about the divorce process from a family law solicitor. Alternatively, Resolution has a number of resources on its website that give an overview of key areas.
How to keep divorce amicable
If you’re able to maintain some sort of amicable relationship this will be emotionally beneficial to both of you. This can be easier said than done but there are steps you can take to make the divorce process as amicable as possible.
- Keep the lines of communication open
An important part of this is maintaining good communication when possible. This includes setting boundaries if communications become strained: for example, you can decide what you'll communicate about directly and whether some issues should be discussed through your solicitors or in mediation.
- Explore alternatives to court
January may be ‘divorce month’ but it’s also Family Mediation Month. This encourages people to consider family mediation as a way to stay in control and make joint decisions. Court proceedings are useful for certain situations as these set clear parameters for all parties, but there are also alternative options to court which can be used to sort out finances or disagreements about child arrangements.
How we can help you deal with divorce
If you’re considering divorce, it’s important to know there are professionals who can help. A specialist divorce solicitor will guide you through all the practicalities, such as making arrangements for children and achieving a fair financial agreement.
The Tozers family law team are members of Resolution, which means we’re committed to taking a constructive approach that considers the needs of everyone involved. We understand divorce or separation can be an emotional and challenging time. Whatever stage you’re at, we’re here to support you through it all.
Our family law experts provide practical and sensitive legal advice on divorce, financial matters and issues relating to children. We support you to make the best decisions for you and your family, so you can move on to a brighter future.