In England, the first business day of 2024 will be Tuesday, 2 January. For many, this is the first day they can pick up the phone, send an email or even Instagram message a family lawyer after the Christmas holiday period. The spike in divorce enquiries on the first day of each new year has led many to coin the day ‘Divorce Day’.

Some people are uncomfortable with the ‘Divorce Day’ label and believe it has been fabricated by lawyers, the media or a combination of the two. However, research undertaken by law firm Stewarts in the past three years shows that enquiries do spike in January following the end of the Christmas holiday period and in September following the end of the long summer holidays. This is as true for financial matters as it is for children matters. These intense holiday periods appear to result in reflection and revaluation, whether children are involved or not.

A flurry of applications at any one time puts additional pressure on a court system already badly under strain, which can lead to extensive delays in the court process. Clients are acutely aware of the cost of extended litigation, and no matter your wealth bracket, no one enjoys incurring legal fees on personal matters. With this in mind, partner Toby Atkinson provides some top tips on how to stay out of court after separation.


Instruct a specialist family lawyer

This may seem counterintuitive, but family law is a specialist area. In the same way that you would not ask an optician to remove your spleen, using a non-specialist lawyer or no lawyer can lead to greater cost and acrimony down the line. A good family lawyer can guide you on your entitlements and what can be done to conduct a case efficiently and in your best interest. This can enable you to make the right choices at the right time.


Know your limits

If recommended by your lawyer, work with a therapist alongside your divorce lawyer. This can be a great way of identifying early on your ‘legal’ and ‘emotional’ red lines. There may be times when you need to compromise on one or the other. Understanding these from the outset will help you identify your objectives and keep you from ending up in court on topics that aren’t a good use of your energy or resources.


Know that the court process isn’t the only option

A good family lawyer will provide you with a number of different options and solutions to the court process. They will be able to explore with you how to reach a resolution that is right for you and your family. This could be by exploring mediation (a direct negotiation facilitated by an independent mediator), arbitration (a private, accelerated court-based process) or other negotiated means.

Exploring these private, more discreet options is particularly important for the types of clients Stewarts acts for. These options can be especially attractive for some clients given the constant online scrutiny of high-profile relationships and the trend in English family law towards openly publishing judgments made at final hearings.


Don’t sweat the small stuff

Litigation can be unpleasant, time-consuming and energy-sapping. Put in place a support network outside of your lawyers that can help you look after your mental and physical wellbeing during the process. Try to look at matters through your friends’ and family’s eyes or on a longer horizon. In five years’ time, will you still want the lawnmower over and above your own wellbeing (and/or that of your children’s or the other parent of your child)?


Understand that sometimes going to court is the only option

A family lawyer with experience of similar circumstances such as yours or situations that involve similar personalities will be well placed to guide you. Sometimes, court proceedings are the right and only path to resolution. However, it can be timely and costly, and you need to go into it aware of the cost/benefit analysis.



You can find further information regarding our expertise, experience and team on our Divorce and Family pages.

If you require assistance from our team, please contact us or alternatively request a call back from one of our lawyers by submitting this form.



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