Christmas is traditionally a time for family celebrations filled with love and laughter. Friends and family together sharing and making memories. But what happens if you are teetering on the edge of divorce? What if you are in an unhealthy relationship? Or perhaps you’re divorced and cannot agree the arrangements for your children?
The festive period often means spending more time with family and as a result, January typically sees a huge spike in divorce applications. This January an exponential spike is expected due to the no-fault divorce legislation passed earlier this year.
Our family law expert Claire O’Flinn provides some tips on what to do before making any drastic decisions and how to manage some of the most common obstacles families encounter during the holidays.
Looking after the children’s interests
Children of different ages will absorb information differently and so you will need to consider how you are going to break the news to each child. If the divorce has a negative impact, it is helpful if you know the signs to watch for to ensure your children feel supported throughout the transition.
If you are separated or divorced, it is important to ensure arrangements regarding the children are planned as far in advance as possible.
Handling difficult conversations
Over the Christmas period, if a difficult conversation is started, consider a response of “let’s not talk about that now” or just turn your attention to something else. Or find an excuse to leave the room. It isn’t walking away; it is short-term self-preservation.
Control your reaction
You cannot control what others say or do but you can control how you react to them. If you know that your partner always jokes that you can’t make gravy, know that in advance and let the hurtful comment drift pass. If your ex-partner is intent on making things difficult, rise above it, don’t bite.
We cannot stop people being controversial and hurtful, but we can modify our reaction. Try not to engage in a conversation; change the topic!
Mulled wine? Glass of fizz? After-dinner liqueur? It can be difficult to avoid the booze at Christmas. If you’re aware you become argumentative if you have been drinking, monitor yourself. Slip in soft drinks. Whilst it can be tempting to “drink through it”, if you know you get loose-tongued, be mindful of how much you are consuming. And avoid the people that you know become unpleasant when they drink and those that you know will push your buttons.
Never underestimate your support network! If you need a quick top-up, message a friend or phone them if you can. Whilst they may be busy, they might just find your message the love that they need too.
Take a deep breath
If you cannot physically leave a stressful situation, focus on your breathing. Take five slow, deep breaths, focusing on breathing in and out. Just feeling grounded can have a powerful effect on stress and anxiety.
Get specialist advice
If you believe your relationship is beyond repair, speaking to a specialist family solicitor at an early stage can put you in the best position when considering a separation. Your lawyer can talk through marriage counselling, mediation, separation and ultimately divorce. They will also educate you on options available to you, the costs, the time frame and a possible outcome.
If you are considering or ready to start divorce proceedings, contact family law partner Claire O’Flinn to discuss your options.
This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.