real life

'I'm a divorce coach. Here are 8 reasons you might be heading for divorce this festive season.'

Talk to anyone in the family law space and you will hear them referring to the festive season as the 'Break Up Season'. After the summer holidays, family lawyers are inundated with new clients who have decided to separate over the festive season. 

As a divorce advisor with over 15 years of experience, here are the main eight reasons so many relationships don't make it past the new year. 

Watch: During Mamamia's Confessions video series, people admit when they knew it was time for a divorce. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

1. The Christmas party affair. 

What might be an innocent workplace flirtation may move one step closer to something more serious at the end-of-year company Christmas party. Many of my clients have either strayed or have been cheated on during corporate Christmas parties or lunches. As one client told me recently, "We had been flirting all year but there wasn’t an opportunity to do anything until the work Christmas Party. All of a sudden, she was looking good and with the free booze, we crossed the line." 

I have had other clients tell me they knew as soon as their ex came home from their corporate Christmas lunch that they had strayed and their relationship was over.

2. The expenses.

With money troubles being up there as one of the major reasons for divorce, the added pressure of Christmas presents, celebrations and travel can place more stress on relationships already under strain because of the skyrocketing cost of living. 


"He’s blown our budget with all the Christmas presents he has bought for his parents and nephews and nieces. It’s the last straw. I can’t take this pressure and his lack of respect for our money any longer," one of my female clients told me last year.

3. The extended family. 

Speaking of nephews and nieces, Christmas is a time that most people spend with their extended family – and that of their partners. And not always happily. The mere thought of having to spend another precious Christmas with their partner’s family has led some of my clients, who may have been on the fence about separation, to jump firmly on the side of wanting a divorce.

4. Summer holidays.

Not only do people find it difficult to spend time with their partner’s extended family over Christmas, but a good (or bad!) sign that your relationship may be in trouble is if you don’t enjoy your summer holiday together. The extended break is a time where partners usually reconnect, but I have found that many of my clients have realised their marriage is over during this time. 

Sometimes it's because they have realised that they have little in common with their partner (for example, one partner might want to go trekking in Peru, while the other would prefer camping somewhere local). Others have felt unappreciated or taken advantage of because they have ended up taking on more of either the Christmas shopping or holidays chores while their partner was indulging in midday naps or watching the cricket all day on the couch. 

5. Christmas presents.

One of my first clients told me it was when she opened a Christmas present from her ex that she knew she was done. "All year, I had been dropping hints I wanted a new coffee maker. When I opened my present and saw that it was a book that I had been reading for two months WHILE IN BED NEXT TO HER, I realised she didn’t ever really listen to me, was not interested in making me happy, and actually was not aware or appreciative of me at all. It was time to go."


6. Children finishing Year 12. 

For many of my clients, the fact that their youngest child has just finished year 12 means that their parenting job is done and they can now decide for themselves rather than for their kids. I have had many clients (men and women) who have waited many, many years for their children to finish year 12 before separating. 

In one case, I had a female client who waited for seven years as she wanted to make sure her husband paid the private school fees and her daughter was able to achieve her lifelong dream of studying medicine. Once her daughter turned 18 though, she was out the door: "I have done my time and now its time for me"

For many women, an empty nest can result in them having an urge to become more independent, find new meaning in their life beyond parenting, and sometimes even build a new identity. Often this can also result in them wanting to separate and start a new life without their former partner.

7. School holidays.

The stress of juggling the kids and work over the extended break can also put a lot of stress on relationships. For some of my clients, it’s the final straw when the other parent leaves the school holiday juggle up to them. "It got to the point where I was sick of taking on all the responsibility for organising the kids and their activities. I have to work too. The one day they were responsible for looking after the kids, they took them into their work and the kids did nothing but whinge to me about it. At least if we were separated, they would have to look after them for half of the school holidays."


8. New Year, new beginnings (or endings!).

Finally, the Silly Season ends with New Year’s Eve and all the resolutions that go along with it. For many people, thinking about the New Year and what they want to change in their world makes them reassess their desire to continue their relationship. "New Year is a time for reflection. This year, I decided it was time to be courageous and end my relationship. I didn’t want to be in the same position in another year and waste another year of my time and my partner’s time. So while it was difficult, and I am still sad about it, it was time to really start preparing to leave and to have the conversation."

Of course, there are a myriad of other reasons people leave their relationship over the silly season but these are the main ones I hear about time and time again. 

Listen: On the first episode of our separation and divorce podcast, The Split, Mandy Nolan talks you through the signs that your relationship has come to an end. 

Jacqueline Wharton is Australia’s first Separation and Divorce Advisor and Coach and has worked with individuals and couples for nearly 15 years providing them with divorce strategy, options and support. Her mission is to support people to be better not bitter during their divorce. She has recently launched her online Good Separation and Divorce Online Masterclass.You can find more about her at or follow her on Instagram or Facebook @theRelationSuite.

Feature Image: Getty.