New trend sees spouses serving papers as presents as a means of ‘taking back control’

Happy Christmas darling, here’s your divorce papers… New trend sees spouses serving papers as presents as a means of ‘taking back control’

  • January is one of the busiest times of the year for a divorce attorney
  • Many choose to serve papers on big dates like anniversaries and birthdays 
  • Lawyer, Diane Benussi, said clients view presenting divorce papers as a means of ‘taking back control’

In the wake of Christmas conflict, January is traditionally one of the busiest times of the year for a divorce lawyer.

But in case you need quirky gift ideas for the year ahead, there’s a new trend – serving your spouse with divorce papers as a Christmas present, just as Den did to Angie in EastEnders in 1986. Birthdays or even anniversaries are also an option.

Diane Benussi, who runs a large matrimonial law firm in Birmingham, said clients had spoken of presenting the papers as a means of ‘taking back control’.

Ms Benussi, herself a divorcee, said: ‘I’ve had one female client recently who has explicitly told me she would be serving papers on her partner on his impending birthday. 

‘She wanted it to be her present to him. It’s about saying “notice me – this is serious”.’ 

Ms Benussi said her firm was also representing a client intent on serving papers on an anniversary. 

Last year landmark reforms were introduced aimed at reducing conflict between warring couples by opening the door to no-fault divorce.

Mrs Benussi said that prior to the reforms, she saw evidence of a ‘power imbalance’ within separating couples – when the petitioner was in charge of proceedings.

‘Maybe there’s an element of people still wanting to flex their muscles a bit by choosing an important date, such as a birthday, Christmas or an anniversary, to trigger the separation’, Ms Benussi added.

But while she said the festive season could tip couples who don’t usually spend time together over the edge, she believed most planned for divorce well in advance.

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