FAMILY MATTERS: Vanessa Fox

A change seems to be on the way

THERE'S nothing new under the sun is a familiar phrase.

It is a concept which Shakespeare wove into his sonnets and was a popular Elizabethan mantra.

So we are all familiar with a sense of a new beginning in a new year with resolutions and sights resolutely set on the future.

Our ancestors also had their own ways of using the New Year as a marker for change.

It was Julius Caesar who brought us the new calendar with January 1 as the start of a new year - the month was named after the Roman god Janus.

Janus with his two faces, one looking forward and one back, is the god of beginnings and endings.

Considering a new direction can include everything from a change of hairstyle, dusting the cobwebs off the exercise bike or making more time for friends.

It can also be a time of very challenging change.

More people start divorce proceedings in January than at any other time of the year – between 25 and 50% more than the usual figure according to some research.

The decision to divorce or separate is not taken lightly by anyone.

In times of recession with house prices, jobs and investments just three extra things to consider very carefully, the conclusion must be drawn that for the majority of people choosing this route, they really feel there is no other answer.

Families, separation and divorce have been very much in focus in recent weeks with Government ministers' ideas, proposals and consultations in the news, including it seems, an idea from Norway.

This approach would involve couples that are planning to separate being made aware of the consequences and impact of their choices.

The relationship education programme funded by the state in Norway, where couples face the realities and implications of divorce before separating, has been credited, it's reported, with reversing the rising divorce rates there.

So, if this idea was ad

opted here would it be an attempt at social engineering, of which governments are sometimes accused, or perhaps just underlining the obvious that in the majority of cases it's good to talk - even if the outcome is still divorce?

The Law Commission's public consultation has also begun concerning the legal recognition of pre nuptial agreements, following the Radmacher v Granatino case where a legal precedent was set with the recognition of a pre nup last year. This consultation closes on April 11 this year.

Following on from this there has also been consideration of the possibility of 'divorce insurance', where couples would be able to take out a policy to cover the cost of a future possible divorce.

All in all change seems to be coming, but the essence of the human experience of separation will surely remain the same.

It is perhaps a little simplistic, but it is nevertheless true to say that if divorce or separation is becoming more and more likely then it is nearly always helpful for couples to try relationship counseling before calling time on a relationship.

The counseling may not always lead to a reconciliation or resolution of the problems, but it usually helps to create a better understanding on the part of both sides of an issue and, if there has to be a separation, there can be better communication. Particularly where children are involved, this has to be important and helpful

Professional legal advice is always advised if divorce cannot be avoided.

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