Legal Expert, solicitor Chris Barber

Is the New Year a trigger for divorce?

Christmas and the New Year is traditionally a season when we spend time with our families and enjoy being at home with our loved ones.

However, for some it is a time when family tensions rise and flaws in relationships are intensified. It is little wonder, then, that January and February are the busiest months for couples deciding to split and seek a divorce.

Chris Barber, a family law solicitor at Robertsons Solicitors in Cardiff, urged people not to be rash and to take their time when making life-changing decisions.

When emotions are running high, relationships are under strain and every aspect of your life is subject to change, from children, home and finances, now is not the time to rush or take advice from friends or the internet.

“I would advise people to wait a while between making a decision to divorce and actually starting the process and, crucially, people should seek professional advice,” said Chris.

“If you do decide that divorce is the only option, then you must have been married for at least a year, pay £550 to the court to petition for divorce, and prove one of these five facts:

• Adultery

• Unreasonable behaviour

• Desertion

• Separation for 2 years (where both parties consent)

• Separation for 5 years (where the other party does not consent)

“In 2017, there was over 100,000 divorces in England and Wales. Almost half were on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour. However, if the reasons are not laid out very well, the court may refuse your application.

“When people think about divorce, quite often they think of the financial settlement. They are, in fact, two separate applications, but it’s important they are dealt with at the same time. If you fail to agree a financial settlement, you can both continue to access each other’s finances. Just imagine what that would mean if you won the lottery.

“There are no scientific calculations as to how a financial settlement should be agreed but solicitors have to consider the age of the parties, length of marriage, standard of living throughout the marriage, and child arrangements.

“Just because someone’s friend managed to lay claim to their ex partner’s pension does not mean it will be the same for you. Each case is individual.

“This also applies to arrangements with children. Each party will retain parental responsibility and have a right to have a say in important decisions.

“Arrangements will need to be made in relation to who the children live with, which may involve a shared care arrangement, and how they should spend time with each parent.

“There may also be complicating factors, which mean that the children could be at potential risk of harm from a parent, such as due to domestic violence, drug or alcohol abuse, or fears that the children could be taken abroad to live.

“In all of these circumstances, urgent advice is needed to protect against risk to the children.

“Getting divorced is not easy, but with professional support you will be guided through the process smoothly so you can move on with your life.”

Chris is an accredited member of Resolution, which promotes a non-confrontational approach to family law matters. For advice, contact Chris at Robertsons Solicitors on 02921 676101 or at

This Legal Expert column has been provided in conjunction with the Law Society.