There is no doubt that the pandemic has created new dynamics in family law which will have an impact for years to come.
#DivorceDay has become a ‘trend’ on social media as being the day that people race to their lawyers to get a divorce after a fallout over the Christmas period. Whilst, in the past, January has always been a busier month than normal for marital lawyers who equip themselves for the increase of enquiries that usually follow after the festive break, it is not to say that there is a dedicated day for this. Far from it.
Whilst Christmas is of course a festive and merry period for many, statistically it can be a make-or-break time for others. Catastrophic events have a way of putting the microscope on the good and the bad in all of us, with marriages and relationships not being exempt from that focus. This is especially true with the pandemic world we are currently living in.
What has been seen during the pandemic is that the confinement and pressures of ‘lockdown’ have certainly intensified marital stress which we would normally not see until a holiday period such as Christmas. There has however been a trend for people who wish to consider divorce but have been putting it off in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Whilst divorce rates in 2019 were at a high, despite the downturn trend in marriages, it is anticipated that due to the effect of the pandemic and with there being a substantial restriction on marriages within 2020, that we will likely see less divorces in 2021. This in part will likely be due to the very unpredictable nature of the pandemic and the security of a joint income as opposed to separating marital finances during these uncertain times.
According to social media, #DivorceDay should fall on the first working day, normally a Monday, following the Christmas period i.e. Monday 4th January 2021.
It is true, and in our experience, that the first working day following the Christmas holiday sees a sharp increase in new client enquiries for advice on the difficulties that people are experiencing at home. However, what has not been made clear is that whilst lawyers are available to speak with clients about the situation they find themselves, the expectation that divorce papers will be filed and issued that day is absurd and a trend that many lawyers are calling against to stop the phrase being coined. We at Wendy Hopkins Family Law Practice are not sitting by the phone on 4th January 2021 waiting for the floodgates to open and send divorce petitions left, right and centre, but of course we are available to discuss sensitively and compassionately about any difficult situation a person has found themselves in, which may have undoubtedly been magnified over the Christmas break.
We believe that the hashtag for #DivorceDay minimises what can often be one of the most traumatic events in a person’s life. Whilst it remains true that over the years the increase in new client enquiries for divorce in January is on the rise, the impact of the pandemic on this period remains to be seen. What has been noticed throughout the pandemic is that whilst more marriages have come to an end through separation, the trend appears to be that many clients are wishing to not rock the boat any further during these uncertain times and whilst living conditions are difficult, they do not want to enter into a further time of uncertainty.
Director Rebecca Knight states “Every case is different and should be treated that way. What is right for one person, may not be right for the other. Everyone who needs to consult with us about divorce in January will have their own reasons and their own insecurities about the process. What is important is that if you find yourself in this position that you should know that you will be able to move forward as quickly and pain free as possible and that whilst times may be hard right now, you will soon be able to move on with your life in a far happier place”.
Whether there will be a significant rise on the first working day of January 2021 remains to be seen, but we at Wendy Hopkins Family Law Practice are here and committed to providing a compassionate service to our clients throughout each year, and not just on what has been coined as ‘Divorce Day’.
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Author: Rebecca Knight