SCOTS families are being offered the chance to ring a law firm’s Christmas hotline– set up to deal with Yuletide marriage splits.
Edinburgh-based Gibson Kerr say they will be on hand to take urgent enquiries over the festive weeks from couples who are desperate for professional advice about divorce and separation.
They say that Christmas and New Year holidays are traditionally the most common time of year for couples to consider a divorce.
Research last year from the Family Mediation Helpline showed that more than one and a half million people across the UK contemplated splitting up over the festive period.
Gibson Kerr said many couples need access to professional advice – but that few law firms are open.
Partner Fiona Rasmusen said: “More divorces are triggered over the festive period than at any other time; it is a trend that, unfortunately, occurs every year.
“Many people find the stress of the Christmas and New Year holidays puts their relationships under enormous strain and often this leads them to breaking point.
“Issues such as money or family conflicts are often the main causes of marital disputes at this time of year.
“Emotions run high and this can often escalate to people considering beginning divorce proceedings against their partners.
“However, as many legal firms go into shut down over the holidays, these people often don’t have access to the kind of professional advice they need.
“By the time their solicitor opens for business again in January, their relationship may have deteriorated further. “
She added: “Not being able to speak to a lawyer for several days can be very difficult for all parties concerned so we decided to set up a hotline that allows people to make contact with us – even if this is Christmas Day.
“We introduced the service last year and it was warmly received by our clients, so we have brought it in again for 2010.
“In some cases, being able to speak with a solicitor without delay can actually help to prevent a couple starting divorce proceedings.
“We try to offer the kind of constructive help that can perhaps diffuse a difficult situation, rather than letting partners emotions run high or allowing resentment to fester over the holidays.
“Of course, if it transpires that divorce is the only option, then we can provide appropriate legal advice and support about how to start this process.
“By being on standby to respond to calls over Christmas, we can make sure that ensure that the process is as quick and painless as possible.”
The hotline number is 0131 225 7558 .
Gibson Kerr is a family-run law firm that has been established in Edinburgh for more than 100 years.