Family solicitors in the North East have been standing by for the “traditional” January rise in divorce rates this week.

Law firm Irwin Mitchell’s divorce and family law team were anticipating a rise in cases beginning on Monday, in accordance with a trend of divorce rates being up around 25% compared to an ordinary month in the last few years. The firm is now working with children’s charity Kids in the Middle, which seeks to reduce the impact of divorces on children’s lives, after research last year revealed that one in five couples were planning on getting divorced in the new year. In December, Co-operative Law predicted a 332% rise in divorce rates in January – a noticeably larger increase – but whether this will be borne out by facts is unknown. Financial pressures are also considered to be one of the main causes of family disputes at this time of year, with the firm’s research suggesting that over 40% of divorces have this as a major factor.

Experts have suggested that couples hold off from breaking up before the festive season to avoid spoiling the time for family and friends, but that these are not spur-of-the-moment decisions and that appointments with solicitors are often made before the run-up to Christmas begins. Alison Hawes, a specialist divorce lawyer for Irwin Mitchell, said that the increased rate was often due to people thinking that “the new year offers a new start for them and their family”, having had one last Christmas before the split.

The first Monday back after the Christmas break is well-known within the industry as “divorce day” – with parents waiting until their child has gone back to school before beginning proceedings. For this reason, the firm has involved itself with Kids in the Middle, in order to reduce the impact on children involved in family crises. Ms Hawes also said that young people “often did not know where to turn for advice” when they were told the news, and that the association with the charity aimed to address this. Duncan Fisher, the founder of the charity, said that the organisation aims to help children “handle the emotions and stresses that come with this situation.”

Information on the work done by Kids in the Middle can be found on their website here.