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Separation September: summer strains on marriage

September is one of the busiest months for family lawyers, and the reason is the stress of school holidays.

In August we commissioned a survey of over 2,000 people, most of the parents which revealed that 18 per cent of parents of them considered separating from their partner during the holidays.

As children enjoyed their summer break, over half the country’s parents felt under ‘financial pressure’, with one third stating ‘they feel under particular strain’.


One in three adults admit to their marriage or relationship with their children’s other parents feeling more strained during the summer holidays. A third found themselves arguing more during their children’s school holidays.

Our survey also found that women said balancing childcare during the school holidays was more stressful than men.

Ten per cent of parents considered a trial separation during this time. Four per cent of those surveyed admitted they had thought about having an affair following a summer holiday fight with their spouse. However, much of this depends on the couples’ age too.

Men were three times more likely to consider being unfaithful after a fight than women.

When asked when the best time might be to start divorce proceedings, 16 per cent believed after the holidays would be appropriate. Parents were least likely to begin proceedings before the summer holiday started.

Of those who did decide to divorce, one year or more later, when asked whether they would have preferred to stay together one in ten divorcees said they would have preferred to stay together.

It would seem that some couples whose relationship is in trouble use the summer holiday as a chance to give their marriage ‘one final go’. Others delay the start of proceedings until their children are back at school in order to avoid spoiling the family’s break.

Personally, I think that a troubled marriage can sometimes be too damaged to be rescued by a holiday. On the other hand, it can easily be broken by one.

September sadly seems to be the month for separations in the family lawyer’s calendar.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Andrew says:

    Of course THE peak time is early January after too many days with the spouse and the children and above all the in-laws!

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