The Christmas movies which have peppered our television screens for the last month would lead us all to believe that the festive period is for most, a happy mix of snowball fights, twinkling lights and snuggling up by the fire.
Aside from the fact that a white Christmas is a rarity on these isles, there is a much bigger myth being perpetuated.
For many couples and families the festive period can be a very difficult time of year.
It is well known fact that “divorce lawyer” is one of the most Googled terms on Boxing Day.
Perhaps this happens because a couple has struggled through to Christmas to give their children one last festive period as a family or because the stresses of the festive period itself has woken up one or both parties to the extent of unhappiness within a relationship.
Or sometimes it is simply the New Year inspiring the need in some for new beginnings – a resolution to not spend another year unhappy.
Whatever the individual reasons, it is crucial that people don’t make rash decisions and, equally, resist temptation to log on to the internet to search for advice on what to do next.
Unfortunately, with the majority of legal firms shutting down for virtually two weeks over the festive period, there is a risk that a couple in conflict cannot resolve their difficulties until well into the New Year.
As we like to challenge convention and to seek new ways to improve the service a legal firm should give, it made perfect sense to open our doors through the festive period – to help to ensure couples don’t let emotions over-run sensibilities.
It’s obvious that separation is an extremely upsetting time for all concerned and it can be an uncertain and worrying path to tread.
Once the decision has been taken to separate, it’s essential not to make any quick-fire decisions until you have all of the requisite knowledge to hand.
A hasty decision made in sadness, anger or guilt can have long-term consequences for your situation going forward.
The next step is to gather knowledge about the financial and other practical consequences of your separation.
While internet searches are a much used font of knowledge in many aspects of our lives, it is by no means the best source to obtain accurate and relevant advice about the financial and other issues arising from your separation.
An expert family lawyer will ensure that you receive the appropriate advice on key areas such as care arrangements for your children and the financial issues arising in your particular circumstances.
Another point to bear in that even where the emotional fallout from a separation is acrimonious or messy, that does not mean that the legal process needs to be.
There are ways and means of resolving the legal issues, and these can be tailored to your specific needs, desires and situation.
There is no movie perfect picture that can be painted of separation, but by taking the right steps and the right advice the process can be a lot smoother for all parties.
And who knows, in some cases, being able to speak with a solicitor without delay – so diffusing a difficult situation rather than allowing resentment to fester over the holidays – could actually help to prevent a couple starting formal proceedings.