Research reveals the triggers most likely to land UK couples in divorce courts in the New Year.
Monday 22nd December 2014: New research reveals that over a quarter of UK married couples admit that this Christmas will either make or break their marriage. The survey, which questioned 1,000 married couples during the Christmas countdown, found that 28% admit they are giving their marriage ‘one last go’ over the festive period.
One in five (22%) couples worry about the extra pressure that Christmas could place on their marriage, with one in six (16%) believing that this Christmas will be their last as a married couple. Of those who expect to start 2015 with a trip to the divorce courts, 30% have resolved to give their children their best ever Christmas prior to starting proceedings.
The study, released by QualitySolicitors the UK’s leading network of solicitors identified the key ‘Divorce Drivers’ to watch out for over the Christmas break to avoid starting the New Year with a trip to a solicitor.
Christmas Socialising - 52% said that their partner’s festive socialising is likely to play a part in them considering a divorce
Family Finances - 51% said they think that family finances could become a source of conflict within their marriage
Families & In-Laws - 45% said they expect wider families to be a source of conflict - with an interfering mother-in-law top of the list of concerns
Keeping the Children Happy - 41% of couples expect arguments over supervising their children to contribute to divorce
Poor Christmas Gifts - 39% admit that their partner’s choice of festive gift could contribute toward their decision to file for divorce in 2015
QualitySolicitors, Britain’s leading network of solicitors, today calls for couples to consider an ‘Annoyance Amnesty’ over the Christmas break to try and help reduce the traditional surge in divorce applications in January.
Socialising over the festive season is the factor most likely to see UK couples head for divorce courts in January. Over one in five (21%) said they were worried that their partner might cheat on them at a Christmas party, with one in seven (14%) worried that their partner might flirt with someone online over the festive period.
51% admit that disagreements over how to spend the family finances are likely to contribute to their decision to file for divorce in the New Year. 19% say that ‘additional financial stress’ at Christmas is likely to drive their relationship to breaking point, with one in eight (12%) worried that their partner wouldn’t contribute sufficiently to the family finances.
Third on the list of gripes were wider families, with nearly half (45%) of married couples expecting family politics to play a part in them deciding to divorce. An interfering mother-in-law is the most common source of tension, with one in seven admitting this could contribute toward a split. Other sources of frustration were ‘big family arguments’ (14%) and ‘having too many visitors’ over Christmas (12%).
Deciding to Divorce at Christmas
The period between Christmas and New Year is the time most likely to see couples arrive at the decision to divorce, with 15% saying this is the time they would be most likely to arrive at the decision. Sadly 14% admit that Christmas Day could be the day that tensions come to a head and they reach the decision to start divorce proceedings in 2015, with a further 9% making the decision on Boxing Day.
The importance of Christmas presents highlights the biggest difference in gender attitudes to the factors that could lead their marriage to break down. Men prove more materialistic than women, with 43% saying they expect their partner’s choice of Christmas gift to impact their decision on whether to start divorce proceedings, compared to just 34% of women. Similarly, men seem more likely to have already arrived at the decision, with 20% of married men saying they expect this Christmas to be their last with their spouse, compared to 12% of women
In spite of all the factors that can trigger divorce proceedings, concerns still remain amongst couples considering embarking on the process. 14% say they are worried about the likely cost of a divorce, 11% feel sad that their marriage has ended this way, with 10% saying they feel nervous speaking to a solicitor face-to-face. In order to overcome the awkwardness of an initial consultation, 35% admit they would feel less nervous if some of the process could be conducted online.
Melanie Bataillard-Samuel, family solicitor at QualitySolicitors Clarke & Son: “Time and again we find that the pressures and expense of Christmas has often been the last straw for many couples, leading them to file for divorce in January. We are hoping by highlighting the things that grate the most for married couples, we can encourage people to be more considerate of their partner over the festive period and to take time to spend quality time together to work through their difficulties. Taking simple steps, such as cutting down on Christmas socialising without your partner or understanding the financial pressures of this time of year could help thousands of couples across the country avoid beginning 2015 facing the unpleasant prospect of a trip to the divorce courts.’
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Notes to Editors
The Divorce Drivers research was conducted in December by One Poll and asked over 1000 married couples for their views.