New Year has been overtaken by the end of the summer holidays as peak divorce season, according to family lawyers.
With the return to work in January - dubbed ‘Divorce Day’ by solicitors in recent times looming, it now seems the busiest day for divorce proceedings falls later in the year.
Emma Davison, head of family law at Leeds-based Ison Harrison, says that despite a perceived spike in divorce queries on the first working day of January, the real rush of relationship rifts now comes in September after the summer holidays.
She said: “Our experience over the past couple of years isn’t that couples split after Christmas but leave it until later in the year, after the summer holidays.
“When the kids go back to school many couples decide that they don’t want to spend another Christmas together.
“In September this year, we were inundated with calls from couples intent on splitting up.
“Calls were up almost 200 per cent up on the previous year and by far the biggest spike we’ve ever witnessed as far as new divorce proceedings being brought.”
She added: “I think the trend for Christmas and New Year divorces is something of a myth and while it is true that this Christmas may sadly be the last that many couples will spend together, our evidence indicates that D-Day takes place during the first week of September.
“I believe this is because the summer holidays thrust couples together for a longer period of time and this can be too much for some relationships to take.
“Factors such as finding prolonged childcare, financial pressures and the annual family holiday all help to pile on the stress for many couples.
“Christmas can also be a difficult time for relationships with family stresses and strains coupled with added financial worries all piling on the pressure.”
Latest official statistics show that 130,473 couples divorced across the UK in 2013 - down almost three per cent in a year and actually the lowest divorce rate for 40 years.
Ison Harrison has compiled a list of tips to ensure relationships stand up to the strains of the festive season:
* Keep talking - don’t stop communicating. Don’t let the busy work and holiday pressures keep you from communicating. It is easy to get overwhelmed and that’s when a small problem can quickly become a large problem.
* Keep relationship expectations realistic. Don’t compare your relationship or partner to others. And don’t expect a radical change in normal behaviour just because its Christmas as this is destined to fail or end in disappointment. Keep things real.
* Keep the stress out of commitment. The increased pressure of ‘competing’ with friends and family can cause an already rocky relationship to crack. Fundamentally, if couples can just want to enjoy being together this can alleviate the pressure.
* Keep romance alive. The festive season can be so chaotic that couples often forget to take time out for each other. Make time to ensure that it’s just the two of you - romantic, quality time together to keep the flames stoked and remind each of you why you fell in love.
* Keep being patient and flexible. Due to the demands of family, work, present buying, and the numerous other types of festive stress, mastering flexibility and patience with your partner is essential.