Family lawyers call for calm during Scotland’s busiest divorce period of the year



Ruth Aberdein

The first working Monday in January traditionally sees one of the busiest days of the year for family lawyers, with the number people separating increasing significantly following the Christmas and New Year break.

Statistics on divorce regularly reveal a steep rise in the number of people seeking advice from lawyers after what can be an intense period for families and couples.

Relationships that have already been experiencing difficulties can deteriorate with the increased stress, not least the added financial pressures that a family encounters during this time, as well as the prolonged periods spent in close proximity.

The most recent Scottish government statistics reveal that of the 81,200 civil law cases initiated in 2017-18, there were almost 7,000 divorces granted. Divorce and dissolution made up 75 per cent of all family cases.

Ruth Aberdein, head of family law at Aberdein Considine, said: “This can be a hugely difficult time of year for many people and tensions can bring issues in relationships into sharp focus. For some, the prospect of a starting afresh in the New Year is compelling. We do tend to see a significant increase in new clients following the festive period.

“Our experience is that a calm approach to disharmony is always advisable. It is incredibly important not to make any hasty decisions in the heat of the moment, especially when emotions are running high.

“It can often be beneficial to talk to someone outwith the family and in many cases, a return to the normal routine after the holidays will help to reduce the stress and put matters back into perspective. Sometimes though, separation and divorce is an inevitable outcome and it is vital that expert family law advice is taken at the earliest opportunity.”

Fellow family law partner Leonie Burke agreed, saying that marriages can break down for a wide variety of reasons, ranging from unreasonable behaviour and infidelity, to simply growing apart.

She added: “In every case the best advice is to consult a family lawyer as early as possible. Not only can it put your mind at rest by helping you understand the process involved in separation and divorce, including the various alternative dispute resolution models available, but often some advance planning, or planning in the early stages of a separation, can make a real difference to the final outcome.”

The various options for addressing the child related, financial and practical issues arising from separation, include collaborative family law, family law mediation, traditional negotiation involving solicitors and family law arbitration. Disputed court actions tend to be a last resort.



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