Legal Challenge: Help is there for marital breakdowns in the holidays

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Family solicitor and Mediator

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas just like the ones I used to know... or did you only get through Christmas because you promised yourself you would break up with your partner after the ‘festive’ period?

If you feel that your relationship with your partner is on the verge of ending, and Christmas was just one stress too many, splitting up is likely to feel the easy way out.

Are your Christmas memories all the things your partner did, or didn’t do, leading up to and over Christmas, so that you feel you just can’t endure that all again next year?

Everybody wants the perfect family Christmas and while shortcomings can be brushed aside for most of the year, Christmas just seems to zoom in on all those failings, shortcomings and imperfections and tell us that our relationship is a failure. Starting again on our own can seem comparatively easy.

The trouble is, starting again can have other complications.

If you have children, there is the “who will have the children on Christmas Day?” question.

More potential arguments. “Where will we live?” When there is less money to go round if two homes are being funded from the same two incomes and funds available for presents and general fun and festivities are considerably less, the money available can be a lot less than you would have hoped.

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So, what is the solution? Give up on life and accept that Christmas will be never be fun again? Definitely not. What’s incredible is that so few people who get to this point, ask for any professional counselling or legal information or advice, before making the decision to separate. You’ll be much better prepared if you have the information you need in advance, and you may even decide there are alternatives to resolving your differences, such as mediation.

If you are a parent on a low income including receiving Tax Credits, or earning equivalent to or less than the Living Wage of £7.45 per hour, you may be eligible for help and information from the Family Matters Service.

Family Matters Guides are lawyers who specialise in divorce and family breakdown and will give legal information and support. This is a free Government funded service provided through Resolution – a membership organisation for family law professionals. Even if you’ve already separated, but the stresses and strains of Christmas finances and arrangements over who has the children are proving too much, Family Matters can still help.

Family Matters Oxford can be contacted on familymatters.oxford@resolution.org.uk or telephone 01865 406009 or 01865 406038. You can find out more at www.resolution.org.uk/familymatters If you need to consult a lawyer it is best to find one who is a member of Resolution and who will help you to deal with things as amicably as possible and avoid unnecessary costs.

You can search on the Resolution website at resolution.org.uk/findamember

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