Splashed across print and online media: “Divorce Day is coming – read our tips for a quickie divorce”

Heralded by the media as the busiest day of the year for family law solicitors, Divorce Day this year is said to be 8 January.

Relate have reported that in January 2017 they experienced a 24% increase in calls compared to an average month. Anecdotally among family solicitors there can be an increase in enquiries in January.

But – is Divorce Day a myth?

Google trends data shows that while there were peaks for divorce enquiries in January 2012 and 2016 in the years between and also in 2017, divorce enquiries peaked at different times during the year.

What the Google trend data does show is that there is a dip in divorce enquiries year on year between October and December. The spike in searches for divorce in January can therefore probably be explained by this dip beforehand which reflects into a slight increase in January. This could be interpreted as a spike which spurs the media interest in ‘Divorce Day’.

Any peak in workload in early January that a family lawyer experiences can also be explained quite simply – most legal offices are shut over Christmas!

It is unlikely that any enquiry made, whether in January or in July, would be caused by a single event. Relationships and their dynamics are so complicated that a separation cannot be attributed to one single season – however stressful that may be. Calling a family solicitor is a big step for most people - usually following some significant thought and not on a whim.

The Christmas period can increase issues which are already clear in a relationship. As a ‘happy and joyful period’, it also heightens emotions which can make any underlying issues worse. Issues cited regularly are financial pressures or family disputes - which can be exacerbated by the festive season

While ‘unreasonable behaviour’ is the most used ground for divorce, being 45% of the divorce petitions in 2016, the non-fault grounds of either two years or five years separation also make up 42% of divorce petitions, which clearly cannot be as a result of an issue over Christmas. Indeed, one of the most common reasons for a couple to separate is that they have grown apart and no longer wish to be married.