I am always bemused when newspapers claim that the start of the New Year is the busiest time of year for divorce lawyers. Sitting at my desk today, utterly exhausted, I would beg to disagree. In last week’s run up to the holidays, a client flew in from the Channel Isles to see me, I was in London then on to Exeter in Devon, I had a 300 mile car journey back to Leeds, then to Hale in Cheshire for an entire day and back to Leeds for a 6.30am start appearing on the radio. Of the other lawyers in the office, Chris McVay was in court in Newcastle, Julian Hawkhead in the High Court in London, Frank Arndt was in court in Leeds, Judith Routledge was in court in York, Stephen Hopwood in court in Harrogate. Everyone I see who is still left in the office, is breathlessly rushing around, and has hardly any time to count down the hours to a well-earned break.
So do I think New Year will bring an immediate divorce for couples whose relationship is going through a bad patch?
I don’t think so.
I agree that family tensions are ratcheted up during the Christmas period, because few families (especially wives) welcome all the extra work involved in preparing to entertain the family and the in laws for a day or more. The washing up afterwards is enough to cope with, let alone the food preparation beforehand and the thought of credit card bills still to come. But please remember, divorce, is not something that people enter into lightly and because of one bad day, they decide enough is enough. My clients do not suddenly decide to split from their partners because they have had a row about their relatives’ behaviour the day before. Instead, a decision to divorce tends to come over a period of time. Maybe though, Xmas can bring home the need to do something about a boring or unhappy marriage – a longing to be with someone else, an inability to face the prospect of years to come wedged fast in the same dull routine with the same person.
Recently a client consulted me about her divorce. She readily acknowledged they had been in a rut. She was comfortable in it, but he was definitely not and had found someone else. She felt deeply sorry she had taken him and his pay packet for granted and not done more to try and understand his needs rather than blame him for sulking and having moods. Objectively people would probably sympathise more with her than her husband who had left her, but I think she was probably right. There is no such thing as a ‘totally’ bad spouse and a ‘totally’ good spouse.
Whilst married life can be pleasant to some, to others it is daily boredom and frustration and it is exacerbated by the increased pressures of Xmas, and the need to put on an act that all is well. Perhaps to such couples under pressure, a mutual recognition of the other’s needs, and a decision to face the New Year with a mutual understanding of the other’s needs, is needed.
PS I think Xmas and New Year is a wonderful time of the year. It’s cold outside to go running, and then toasty warm inside the house. I love to watch “Love Actually” over and over on the DVD, eat hot mince pies and drink a glass (or two) of wine;- all while flopping on the settee in a pair of comfy pyjamas;- my idea of sheer bliss!
Merry Xmas and a very happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.