WALES: 'Festive season to see rise in split-ups'.
LAW firms in Wales are braced for a New Year surge in divorces as couples stressed by Christmas rush to untie the knot.
For many specialist family solicitors, the Christmas break falls in the middle of a season of ill will between couples and former partners, often ending in the courts.
The Legal Services Commission (LSC), the body responsible for legal aid, said some leading specialist practices reported taking on up to three times their normal number of divorce cases after last Christmas.
Paul Davies, Wales director for the LSC, said: "We all look forward to Christmas as a time to relax surrounded by our families, but the reality for many is a long way from this cosy image.
"It can be a very stressful time that puts relationships under a great deal of pressure and some of them don't survive.
"Lots of extra festive drink at Christmas parties is often blamed for causing a predictable wave of family misery that washes up in the offices of law firms.
"Overindulgence is not necessarily a cause, however, but often a symptom of problems such as extra financial pressures, disparate relatives being thrust together and estranged parents being separated from their children."
Festive problems include: arguments between former partners about contact and residence; Injunctions to restrain abusive or violent partners; by February, when both the financial consequences of separation and the unpaid Christmas bills hit home, there is more work to do handling ex-partners' debt problems.
People can get help from a local solicitor by calling Community Legal Advice on 0845 345 4 345 or visiting the website: www.communitylegaladvice.org.uk