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Legal firm urges couples to stay cool this Christmas

A leading family law firm has issued a list of top tips to help fraught couples stay together this Christmas.

The festive season can be the most testing time of year for relationships, with money, family, presents, parties and excessive drinking all potential flashpoints, traditionally leading to a spike in business for solicitors in January. With around 150,000 couples now divorcing in the UK each year, as many as one in five splits come around Christmas.

The average cost of a divorce is said to be £13,000.

But Woolley & Co, the pioneering Midlands-based law firm that specialises in offering access to top level lawyers via the internet and on the phone with transparent, fixed fee charges, is urging people to avoid getting hot under the collar and think twice before making any snap decisions which could affect the rest of their lives.

"There are so many potential strains over Christmas that it can put stress on even the strongest relationship. It is important people do not inflame situations at an unreal time of year, but keep things in perspective," said Andrew Woolley, senior partner at "virtual" law firm Woolley & Co, which conducts much of its work on line and over the phone.

"Any break-up is emotionally draining and can be costly. Christmas time is a unique time of year and not ideal for making hard decisions about relationships without carefully thinking about the consequences."

Dos and don'ts for couples over the festive period include: 

Don't make important and potentially life changing decisions in the heat of the moment, or after a little too much festive spirit 

Do get friends to mediate in disagreements. This is not a role for your best friend, they'll be 'on your side', instead choose a mutual friend who genuinely has both of your interests at heart

Don't allow friends or family members to influence your decisions

Do think about the children. Arguments or a prickly atmosphere are bad enough during the rest of the year but Christmas should be a special time for youngsters

Don't agree financial arrangements if you have decided to split, until you have consulted a specialist family solicitor.

"A little too much alcohol alongside the stresses of the festive season can amplify existing difficulties," added Andrew.

"Phrases you see on television like "I'll take you to the cleaners" or "I'll get custody" are not only unhelpful but are also ridiculously inaccurate in this day and age. They are very emotive and can inflame a situation.

"The repercussions could reverberate for years. It is far better to talk calmly or ask someone else to mediate if you feel you need a 'referee'.

"If you do feel a split is inevitable, you may be well advised to seek help from a relationship counsellor first and then, if necessary, consult an experienced family lawyer."

For advice on divorce and family matters contact Woolley & Co on 0800 321 3832 or email here

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