Although a joyous and festive time of year for most, every year law firms consistently report that December to January is the peak time for couples to commence divorce proceedings. It is unlikely that the reason for this is one awkward incident with the in-laws on Christmas Day. With couples and families spending more time together over this period, tensions can heighten and any issues that typically lie dormant may evolve into irreconcilable differences.

Whether separating from your current partner, adjusting to your first Christmas without the children or even integrating a new partner into family life, at rhw Solicitors we want to go beyond the stats and offer our top tips for planning ahead and ‘coping with Christmas’.

  1. Prepare well in advance, particularly where children are involved
    If you are already separated you need to think and act well in advance over the whole issue of Christmas. The organisation, not only on the day, but across the whole festive period, who needs to be where and when, whether your children know what to expect and whether you and your partner are on the same page. It sounds obvious but time and again we come across breaches of existing agreements or misunderstandings that cause a lot of upset and ramifications on and after the event with future contact.
  2. Be realistic and fair
    It’s important to be realistic about the situation. What are the most realistic options given the circumstances? Are you managing expectations? Think matters through and remember to be fair. Be fair to your children, yourself and others involved, if it is a difficult time for you it is likely the same for them too.
  3. Be flexible, respectful and solution focused
    Although it may seem difficult in the short term, the long-term benefits of being flexible and open to alternative proposals during the festive period can have overwhelming results for all involved. Being respectful and solution oriented is often the most effective and rewarding approach.
  4. Be involved and organised
    You may be far from what you consider to be your ideal Christmas at this time, but it is important to be engaged and involved where you can. Mindfulness can help as an approach. You need to live in the reality of the moment rather than an undeliverable fantasy version of what you would ideally like. Whether for your children, family members or for yourself, plan ahead and address minor issues early on. Be involved and stay on top of what is going on.
  5. Be patient
    Be patient with others and most importantly be patient with yourself. Both separating from old relationships and forming new bonds, as well as trust, will take time. Try to maintain a stress-free atmosphere and remember to be understanding and patient where possible. If you are have relatives to stay, particularly elderly relatives, build in extra time around events.

Overall ensure you take time out for yourself and ensure you can unwind over the festive period. Do not get entangled in the pressures of this time of year and try to form a holistic view of the situation and take a calm approach to problems that arise. Christmas is a relatively short period of time. Normal routines will return before you know it.

If you need some legal advice on a family law matter or any other legal matter, call 01483 302000 or email guildford@rhw.co.uk