Another new year brings with it another round of stories in the media about D-day – where "D" is for divorce.

It is frequently reported that January will see record numbers of people seeking advice as to how to get a divorce. Whether this has any bearing on reality is a matter for some debate. Christmas can be a magical family time, but spending extended periods of time in close proximity to those closest to us can prove a challenge even for those with the strongest bonds. If there are problems in a relationship this can be the final straw.

It is not my experience that there is a rush to the office door early in the new year. The breakdown of a relationship is a painful thing. It takes time and thought to come to a conclusion that a marriage is over. It is something that will affect not only the couple.

There is inevitably a ripple effect. Family, friends and work colleagues will be affected as, most importantly, will be the children – whether young or old, the news of an impending parental separation can be devastating. It is not a decision which most people will take lightly, but for some couples it is the right decision.

When a relationship comes to an end there is a huge amount of anxiety and fear. Where will I live? How much time will the children spend with each of us? Will I have enough money to live on? Sensible advice at an early stage will help to allay those fears and begin to shape the future.

There is often a fear of “being taken to court”. While the court plays an important part in formalising divorce settlements, nowadays most couples agree the arrangements for their children as well as their finances.

Judges impose settlements only in rare cases where agreement cannot be reached.

A range of different processes can be used to get to an agreement, ranging from informal discussions around the kitchen table through mediation and collaborative law. Good legal advice will explain what each of these options entails and identify the best option for you.

At newly merged Lupton Fawcett Denison Till we have a specialist team of family lawyers with many years’ experience in helping people from diverse backgrounds and circumstances come through the process of separation and divorce. We are members of Resolution which means that we adhere to a code of conduct which puts children first and aims to minimise conflict.

We will advise on all options available so that you can make informed decisions. We are supported by other specialist lawyers who can advise on a wide range of other issues which often affect separation, including family businesses, wills, trusts and insolvency. If you or anyone you know needs specialist advice and support we would be pleased to hear from you – whether in January or at any other time of year.

•For further help and advice, contact Nicki Mitchell at Lupton Fawcett Denison Till on 01904 561444 or e-mail