The Christmas period is a very special time of the year for a huge number of people and the reasons are varied. There is something magical about the festive lights and how they shine through the dark of the winter season, which brings with it long nights and cold commutes to and from work. With that comes the relief of time off work and away from school, and the obvious excitement surrounding both the giving and receiving of presents. Of course, for many, it holds meaning as the day that marks the birth of Jesus. However, not everyone looks forward to the Christmas period and the inevitable “family time” that comes with it.
For many, the prospect of spending long hours with partners, spouses, and family members causes genuine distress. If a relationship is going through a difficult point, or if it is all but over, the last thing that anyone really wants to do is be put into a high pressure environment with their partner’s family. Often, this feeling is exacerbated by the involvement of young children. However, despite this tension, many couples choose to put aside thoughts of separation and press on through the seemingly inevitable misery of the Christmas period.
They may do so for a number of reasons, such as the belief that staying together is in their children’s best interests, or deciding to get Christmas out of the way before starting afresh in the New Year. Indeed this is reflected in the figures each year, which show a spike in the number of new divorce clients, leading to the first working day after the festive break being dubbed “Divorce Day”. However, this approach may not be appropriate for you and in many cases it would seem far more sensible to effectively bite the bullet and consider separation before Christmas.
Whilst staying together for Christmas may seem like the best way to ensure the children are happy, it can cause more harm than good. Children are incredibly perceptive from a young age and may pick up on any tension between parents. Even more worrying is the potential for children to witness arguments or domestic abuse as anger bubbles over. In addition, the increase in strain between the parties themselves may cause lasting damage to the chances of the parents working together to bring up the children. It may also affect their ability to work together to agree a financial settlement, and that could lead to much higher legal costs and further resentment.
Everyone hopes for a peaceful, merry, enjoyable festive season. Sadly, however, that just isn’t possible some times, and, if tensions are high between partners then it may be better for all concerned if the arrangements for Christmas and New Year are discussed and considered beforehand.
James Scarborough is a family solicitor based in the Stowe Family Law St Albans office. He studied at the University of Sheffield and the College of Law in London.
James has experience in a breadth of family law issues, including divorce, finances, unmarried partners and children disputes. He takes a practical approach to his cases and aims to provide clear, straightforward advice. As a member of Resolution, amicable agreements are at the forefront of his approach, but he is equally adept at progressing matters by way of court applications where appropriate.
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