Monday of this week was apparently ‘Divorce Day’, the most popular day of the year for people to start divorce proceedings. Three days on, we asked six divorce lawyers what they’ve seen this week or whether the whole ‘Divorce Day’ thing is simply a trite catchphrase.
Some say it’s exactly that and “insensitive to families struggling in their marriages”, while others have said “the end of last week and the first few days of this week have been manic for divorce enquiries”.
Fotoulla Menikou, Director/Consultant Family Law Solicitor at The Friendly Family Lawyer Ltd: “I am not a fan of the term ‘Divorce Day’. I believe it diminishes and trivialises the pain of separation and divorce for those going through it. Monday was busy, with an influx of new enquiries, but this is often the case in any new year. Many individuals delay making enquiries about divorce to avoid conflict over the holidays. Marital problems can also be exacerbated over the Christmas period due to the usual pressures of the season, prompting people to “start the new year afresh” and take action in January to part ways. It is by no means the busiest start to a January I have seen over the years. When no-fault divorce was introduced in April 2022, there was an initial spike in cases but this was largely due to many people delaying filing for divorce until the new legislation came into force, on the advice of their solicitor.”
Poonam Chudasama, Family Solicitor at MyFamilyLaw.uk: “Divorce Day, as it is known, is seen to be the busiest day for divorces but as a solicitor dealing with divorces, I can tell you this categorically is not the case. The first week of January after all the holidays and children going back to school is without doubt a time for reflection and there is certainly an increase in enquiries about divorce proceedings, but I find that people want to be prepared before they start any such proceedings because there are more important issues to resolve such as finances and children. Having a set day like Divorce Day, and how it is portrayed in the media, is insensitive to families struggling in their marriages. There are emotional factors in play as well as dealing with a very practical process to end a marriage. However, I have seen a 40% increase in applications for divorce over the past 10 months.”
Tahina Akther, Barrister and Co-Founder at Wildcat Law: “The end of last week and the first few days of this week have been manic for divorce enquiries, with a daily rate of enquiries equivalent to the normal amount for a full month. While you do see the same thing every year, this year has been especially busy, particularly regarding matrimonial finance enquiries. This is the financial settlement part of a divorce. We have seen a significant increase in the number of people who have already divorced, many via DIY or low-cost methods, coming to us to resolve their finances as this was not done when they divorced. This can often be far more complex than if it had been done at the time. No-fault divorces have certainly helped remove the “morality” factor in divorce. As a Judge once stated in a matter I was involved with, “this is not a court of morals”
Karen Dovaston, Director/solicitor at Dovaston Law: “I really dislike the term ‘Divorce Day’. It simply isn’t true and is nothing but an empty catchphrase. In 27 years of working in family law, my experience does not reflect this. Humans are far more complex than this. I generally find busier times are in February, after Valentine’s Day, and in September, after the summer holidays. Having said that, people are not robots and their timelines are very personal. I have not seen an increase in divorce enquiries because of no-fault divorce. There was a spike in April 2022, largely caused by those holding off from commencing proceedings from December 2021 onwards, but in my experience, the rates have steadied. Again, people are more complex. Most of the time, by the time they arrive at a solicitor’s office, they have done the emotional heavy lifting and just want the practicalities sorted out.”
Chris Sweetman, Director at Fair Result Limited: “After the Christmas celebrations ended, we saw an 80% spike in the number of enquiries for divorce culminating on Tuesday of this week with our biggest number of enquires ever in one day. Our enquiries were up by over 100% on the same day last year as people begin to realise fault and blame is no longer attached to marriage breakdown, ending the polarisation and battle that feuding couples went through when divorcing. Divorce isn’t a blame game anymore. It’s about reaching a solution as quickly and fairly as possible so that both parties can move on with their lives. This huge increase needs to be coupled with a move to fixed fee divorce so parties know what it will cost them when they first approach a lawyer. Certainty and clarity for couples are what’s needed in the divorce market.”
Joanna Toch, CEO at Family Law Cafe: “This year’s Divorce Day was the first when people need help because they are already in the divorce process. Now that a divorce can be started as easily as logging onto the government website, people are calling for help on what happens next. People are saying they have received a petition or sent one and what happens about the home they are living in? That, for example, their husband comes and goes and nothing has been said to them before getting the petition. We sense bewilderment and worry in the calls that are coming in. Enquiries have been coming in since Christmas because people, these days, don’t need to wait until conventional lawyers’ offices are open so it is a steady flow rather than a New Year surge.”