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January ‘Divorce Day’ spike: How to cope if you’re part of the annual surge of separations

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What is ‘Divorce Day’?

  • “Divorce Day” refers to the spike in the number of couples seeking legal advice about divorce and separation during the period immediately after the holiday season.
  • Slater and Gordon Family Lawyer Mona Emera said the spike is most concentrated in the first few days of the new year, but is still noticeably high throughout January.

“The term ‘Divorce Day’ has become quite common, but it’s really more of a ‘Divorce Month’, if anything,” Ms Emera said.

“Our family law client data over the last two financial years shows a significant spike in enquiries and appointments in January, which has continued into February.

“For example, the number of family law appointments we scheduled in January 2015 was 31 per cent higher than our national monthly average for that financial year.

“That spike continued into February 2015, with a figure 19 per cent above average, while appointments in February last year were 40 per cent above our FY 2016 monthly average.”

Why is there a spike in divorce enquiries in January?

  • Ms Emera said there are generally three reasons people enquire about separation and divorce at the start of the new year.

“The most common reason given by people seeking advice in January is simply that the new year is the natural time for them to reassess their lives,” Ms Emera said.

“Another feeling experienced by many people is that the stress and closeness of the festive period brought up issues that they can no longer ignore.

“We also regularly see people start the separation or divorce process in January to provide breathing room around the school year, which minimises the impact on children’s education and exams.”

Overall, are more Australians getting divorced?

  • The most recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show a recent increase in the number of divorces granted in Australia, but the rate of divorce is steady.
  • There were 48,517 divorces granted in 2015 in Australia, which is a 4.3 per cent jump from the 46,498 divorces granted in 2014.
  • The crude divorce rate did not change from 2014 and remains steady at two divorces for every thousand people in 2015.

What advice should people consider if they are going through a separation?

  • Ms Emera said people who have decided that separation is necessary should get legal advice before communicating their decision to their spouse or de facto partner.

“It is important to understand the legal and practical consequences of separation before you start the formal process,” Ms Emera said.

“It’s also a good idea to try to keep things civil, especially if there are children involved.

“People shouldn’t be afraid to seek support or professional help – separation can be a stressful experience and there are many ways to make the process easier.”