IF TAMMY Wynette were alive today to pen another catchy country number, she might want to consider R.E.C.E.S.S.I.O.N as a fitting subject for a lilting tear-jerker.
The period after New Year has always been a busy time for divorce lawyers in the Midlands but, with a recession looming ahead, experts in the region are expecting a record month.
Kevin Harris-James, head of Private Client and Family Law at law firm Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office, said his firm was used to receiving an influx of calls just after the festive period, often as many as three times the monthly average, and he believed this year would be the firm’s busiest yet.
“Whether prompted by a desire to try to find out more about the options available in the event the marriage cannot be saved, or just intent on issuing divorce proceedings this first Monday, when Christmas is fully behind us, we traditionally receive the most calls,” Mr Harris-James said.
“If you look at the reasons for divorce you get your traditional reasons such as adultery and falling out, but more and more financial issues are appearing in applications.”
Another effect of the economic downturn has been a reversal in which partner in the marriage takes the initiative in divorce proceedings, according to Mr Harris-James.
“When the breadwinner is doing well – and let’s say for argument’s sake that the breadwinner is the husband – the wife takes the initiative to divorce more than the breadwinner, because obviously the breadwinner is worth more.
“But in a credit crunch it tends to be the breadwinner instigating divorce. All I can say is my feeling is that my new inquiries tend to be male-led at the moment.”
Mr Harris-James said he had also seen more applications to vary downwards child maintenance emerge as a result of the credit crunch.
“We have seen men come back to court saying my businesses is on its knees,” he said.
But all hope is not lost for love in a time of recession, it seems. Other relationship-related sectors, such as online dating and speed dating, have seen an increase in business at a time when many other sectors are seeing growth slip away. Dating group Easy Date, whose portfolio includes online dating brands such as DatetheUK as well as offline dating business Speed Dater, said it had seen rapid growth since the collapse of Lehman Brothers last year brought the credit crisis to the consciousness of the general public.
Easy Date marketing manager Sean Wood said: “It has had a positive effect on our business as people are simply looking to save money by dating and socialising in a cheaper way, i.e., by using online dating. We have seen a higher-than-normal growth rate since early September and with the collapse of Lehman Brothers.We had been seeing organic month-on-month growth of ten per cent but in September that went up to 20.”
Figures from tracking agency Nielsen Online for the whole industry tie in with Easy Date’s numbers, indicating a 15 per cent rise in unique users visiting online dating sites in November compared with the same month in 2007.
Mr Wood added that seasonal factors play a part in the nation’s lovelife, with a boom in new customers searching for love online in the early part of the year, often prompted by the tide of post-Christmas divorces. “We do see quite a big jump in January that seems to run right through to beyond Valentine’s Day,” he said. “That’s a peak we recognise that’s never going to change, partly as a result of divorces being quite high over Christmas. They don’t hang about – you would have thought they would sit back and be sad for a month or two.”