A family lawyer is giving heartfelt advice to couples feeling the strain in the new year, as the region heads towards ‘Divorce Day’.
The first working Monday (January 8th) after the festive break has been identified as the peak time for stressed partners to seek out advice about ending relationships.
One in five people in the UK are living in a distressed relationship, according to relationship support charity Relate.
Problems can be exacerbated by extended time spent together over Christmas, financial pressures and individuals looking to the New Year to make a fresh start.
Experienced family lawyer Amanda Merrick, whose #LawtoDoor initiative will be in Cumbria on Friday January 12th, said there was help available to people with issues but who weren’t yet ready to contemplate the end of their relationship.
She said: “It’s definitely worth considering some form of counselling or, if there is a specific issue, another dispute resolution service, such as mediation.
“Relate is, perhaps, the best-known provider but the NHS offers a similar service if one - or both partners - has a mental health problem, such as depression, that is affecting the relationship.”
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that divorces between opposite sex couples in England and Wales rose by 5.8 per cent in 2016 to 106,959.
Amanda said for an individual contemplating divorce it was important to empower themselves with information and take legal advice as soon as possible.
She said: “So many clients attend a first appointment having pre-determined that the separation will leave them homeless and with nothing or never seeing their children again.
"In the vast majority of cases neither of these propositions bear any resemblance to the outcome.”
Having enough money to live and the future of any children are primary concerns in most break ups.
Amanda added: “Whatever forum you use to resolve any financial issues a full and frank exchange of information is likely to be required going back at least 12 months.
"Draw up a list of everything you know about your other half’s financial circumstances and make a start on getting all your relevant paperwork in order.
"It’s never easy trying to establish a co-parenting relationship whilst in the throes of a separation but if you have children that is what you have to strive to achieve and, for their benefit, as soon as possible.
“The family court has wide-ranging powers to deal with children issues, but it cannot resolve any emotional stuff between the two of you caused by the relationship breakdown.
"Don’t lose sight of your real objective - damage limitation for your children.”
Experts agree that at such a stressful time it is important that individuals take time to look after themselves by eating healthily, exercising and getting enough sleep.
Amanda added: “Remember to surround yourself with people that make you feel good and always be kind to yourself, allow yourself to make mistakes but learn from them. Everything passes eventually.”
Amanda has been a family lawyer for 28 years and has successfully developed #LawtoDoor – meeting clients at venues and times that suit them - to further extend her work in Cumbria, where she has strong family connections.
The Merrick team will next be in the county on Friday January 12 and anyone in need of their professional help should ring 0161 838 5410 or email email@example.com.