Traditionally the first Monday of the New Year is regarded as "D Day" for divorces in that this is the day during the year when most Petitions for a divorce were issued. In a slow news period at the beginning of the New Year (Brexit aside) newspaper headlines over the years have centred on this statistic although the relevance is questionable now as Petitions are not immediately issued by the Court when sent to them and there has been large delays in all work required from the Family Court including the starting of divorces.
An online option for starting a divorce is now available to give people acting without a Solicitor the opportunity to start a divorce in this way. At the moment all Solicitors do not have access to this and are still working on the old fashioned paperwork filing of a Petition but figures suggest that the online option is going to become popular especially with the possibility of developing a "no fault" divorce as has been advocated. Figures revealed recently show that more than 23,000 applications for divorce have been made online since the service was launched in April 2018 and 455 of those were made between Christmas Eve 2018 and 1st January 2019...In fact, 13 were filed on Christmas Day itself!
The Christmas festive period has always been a challenging one for relationships that are already struggling. Very often couples delay taking any action about a separation or divorce until the New Year and sometimes that is part of the process of making New Year resolutions. However it now appears that the pressure brought about by spending time together over Christmas could now result in divorces being started almost instantaneously even when the Courts are closed. Hopefully this does not suggest a knee-jerk reaction to issues that arise over the Christmas period in the strongest of relationships but it seems that the traditional "D Day" at the beginning of January has now gone forever.
Commentary by Neale Grearson, Partner and Head of Family Law Department
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*This article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or other professional advice.