The stress of Christmas followed by a new year inviting a new start or a ‘new you’ results in a big increase in enquiries to solicitors about divorce. Of course the problems started the year before, or maybe ten years before, but no-one wants to think about splitting up before Christmas.

At the start of the new year though some people can’t bear to think they’ll be in the same place next Christmas and determine to do something about it. That ‘something’ is often a phone call to a solicitor, simply because that’s what most people think they need to do.

One good thing about all these calls today, and for the rest of this week, is that the person no longer happy in their relationship has taken their first step towards leaving it. When it comes to divorce, starting can be the hardest part because it’s something so huge, scary and overwhelming for most people. Another good thing is that the callers will be better informed after their meeting, and information is power when it comes to separation and divorce.

Unfortunately a lot of these enquirers will feel pressured into paying over a substantial sum of money at the end of their first meeting with a solicitor. Unless there’s urgent action which needs to be undertaken by the solicitor, this can be an unwise move. That said, if a couple can afford to pay at least £50,000 – each – in legal fees if they end up fighting it all out in court, and are not concerned that their children will be damaged by such conflict between their parents, then there’s no reason for one of them not to sign on the dotted line at the first meeting.

It’s not the fault of solicitors that divorce is so expensive and acrimonious (although one may consider it their responsibility to do something about it). Our legal system is adversarial and unsuited to help in the reorganisation of a family. Each solicitor is under a duty to fight for their client’s best interests – but no-one has a duty to fight for the children, or consider the redistributed family as a whole.

Another problem is that there’s often one party to the marriage who’s been thinking about leaving for a long time, while the other is unaware that there’s even a problem and can be left in a state of shock, anger, distress and a whole host of other emotions by the bolt from the blue. This isn’t a good state in which to embark on all the momentous decisions required during a divorce and is often why they are so protracted, expensive and contentious.

So if you know anyone who is considering ending their marriage this January, please encourage them to take their time, to get as much information as they can about their situation and the different ways to resolve it, and to make a plan before taking any action.

A first meeting with a solicitor can cost anything from £100 to £1,000. My book, A Better Way of Dealing with Divorce, costs just £10 and says all that a solicitor will say at a first meeting, and a lot that they won’t say. It explains where to start, how divorce works, how to plan one, how to help and protect the children, and how to save money on legal fees. It’s short and easy to read. Do you know anyone who needs a copy? You can find one here: or an e-book on Amazon.