As the year comes to a close, it’s natural to find ourselves thinking about the future and trying to process what’s happened over the past year. If you’re currently in a struggling relationship, considering separation, or in the midst of divorce, this time of year can be particularly fraught and emotional, as you attempt to deal with a huge life change alongside all the pressures of Christmas. Stressing about money, making children’s arrangements, seeing family and friends, trying to maintain a social life, juggling work and housework and dealing with legal issues… It all piles up, and the annual headlines about spikes in new year divorce applications are no coincidence – things often build up to bursting point and come to a head over the holiday period, acting as a catalyst for making that final decision
Wherever you are in the process, one thing that can help reduce potential stress during the next few weeks is simply being aware of potential triggers. Acknowledging that you’re having a difficult time, reducing the weight on your shoulders, and asking for help when you need it are far healthier than trying to forge on and maintain a façade of ‘normality’. It also helps to step back and get some perspective, and to realise that it’s possible to give yourself a break over the Christmas period to rally your thoughts:
Firstly, you don’t have to tackle everything all at once. Taking on too much and subscribing to the ticking time bomb of the approaching end of the year is a recipe for overwhelming disaster. Try to decompartmentalise, organise tasks into prioritised lists, delegate where you can, and focus on one thing at a time. What actually needs to be sorted out right now? What can wait ‘til next week, next month, next year? What hypothetical problems are you wasting time worrying about? Minimise! Cut down your to-do list until it’s manageable and realistic.
Secondly, you don’t have to do this alone. If you’re having a hard time, reach out to friends, family, or a professional to get the help and support you need. Use the advice and experience of your solicitor to help get your head around the next steps. Speak honestly with your ex, if possible, and do your best to cooperate, negotiate, and collaborate on a way forward that is as amicable as can be under the circumstances. You’re not alone, and sometimes just admitting that you’re struggling can open doors to support and solutions you hadn’t thought of before.
And thirdly, you don’t have to make any big decisions right now. The end of the year is no time to be dealing with complicated legal issues and making huge, life-changing decisions about your future. If you’re on the cusp of separation, be aware that the stress of Christmas can amplify emotions, and it’s probably best to wait until the new year to try to discuss things calmly and rationally. If you’re in the middle of a divorce, try to give yourself a break. Your solicitor and the courts will be winding down, too, and it’s unlikely any ongoing issues will be dealt with until the new year. Get any important paperwork or appointments sorted before the holidays, and use the downtime to think about what you want for the future, and rally your energy for the next stage of the process.
Your solicitor really shouldn’t be on your Christmas to-do list! Focus on enjoying some time with your family and thinking positively about the coming year. If you’re in need of advice or information on separation, divorce, children’s arrangements, or any other family law issue, our friendly team of solicitors are here to take the weight off your shoulders and help you to find a solution that suits your unique situation.