‘Festive stress’ will see divorce rates soar by 80 per cent in Sunderland, claim experts

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DIVORCE rates on Wearside are set to soar by 80 per cent after the strain of the festive period.

New research from Relate shows figures will rocket this month as many struggling couples see the new year as a new start.

The relationship support service said it experienced an increase in calls from December 2012 to January 2013, with 10,608 calls in December and 19,138 calls in January.

Sunderland divorce solicitor Jacqueline Emmerson, of Emmersons Solicitors, said she agrees with the figures.

“We see a massive rise in people filing for divorce in January, and I think this is for a number of reasons,” she said.

“People whose relationship is struggling and can mask it during the week when they are at work may not be able to when they have to spend a lot of time together over the Christmas holidays.

“A lot of people who are having affairs may wait until after Christmas and announce it on New Year’s, which is common.

“And people who go on holiday may announce it while they are away, when guilt gets the better of them, or there is pressure from a person they are having an affair with.”

She added: “We also get a lot of people filing for divorce in February .

“Sometimes this is because the debt from Christmas gets the better of them, if one person is good with money and one person isn’t.

“I get a lot of people who say their partner had a lot of hidden credit card debt which they didn’t know about.”

She also said couples are encouraged to think twice about applying for divorce, and to try and work out differences before seeking legal advice to separate.

“I always ask them if they can’t work it out first,” she said.

“If a couple change their mind about getting a divorce, I wouldn’t want them to be embarrassed. I would want them to tell me that they have decided to give it a go.

“We have linked up with a family therapist, and couples can go and see them separately, and then together, to try and thrash out their differences.

“And if the decision to separate has come suddenly, I always ask them to think about it, because when my paper lands on their partner’s doorstep, that can drive a wedge between them.”

The number of divorces in 2011 was highest among men and women aged 40 to 44.

Based on marriage, divorce and mortality statistics for 2010, it is estimated that the percentage of marriages ending in divorce is 42 per cent, compared with 45 per cent in 2005.

A spokeswoman for the Office of National Statistics said more statistics on divorce will be published in the spring.

Call Relate on 0300 100 1234 or visit www.relate.org.uk for more information.