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'Separation September' looms as credit crunch holidays take their toll

Date:22 AUG 2008

It's the holiday season peak, but family law solicitors are bracing themselves for a higher-than-normal level of divorce applications in what is looking like becoming Separation September".

"We're beginning to see the signs as the first families and couples begin to get back from their summer holidays - the indications are that divorce and separation levels may be much higher than normal at what is considered to be the second-highest divorce application period of the year," said Maria Taylor of Cheshire law firm, SAS Daniels LLP.

"There's no doubt as to the cause - it's the economy and massive work pressures."

Ms Taylor claims the expected increase in divorce applications is caused by a combination of circumstances: economic downturn, personal finance pressure, a nation of professionals and managers who can't completely switch off on holiday, and getting thrown together for two weeks solid with a spouse or family who they wouldn't normally see for more than a few hours a day as a matter of course.

"Throw in some alcohol, for the unlucky few perhaps the stress of travel delays, bickering kids and a hotel or apartment that's tiny or not up to scratch - and it all becomes a pressure cooker just waiting to blow."

Solicitors do everything they can to talk couples out of separation or divorce, but if the marriage is beyond rescue then a collaborative law approach can at least make matters amicable.

"Collaborative law is a relatively new approach used by family lawyers to manage the divorce process wherein both parties agree to reach settlement without the courts' involvement," said Ms Taylor.

"There is no doubt that going to court can not only cost a great deal more than is necessary, but taking that path could antagonise the judiciary as taking court action in such circumstances can sometimes be seen as wasting valuable time when the courts are already extremely busy."