AS D-Day looms, Yeovil based family law solicitor, Kit O’Brien, is gearing up for the onslaught of couples filing for divorce.

D-Day, or Divorce Day is widely accepted to be the busiest day of the year amongst family law circles.

It is the day that falls on the first Monday after the school spring term starts in January. In 2010 D-Day is scheduled to fall on January 11.

Kit, who has recently joined South West based law firm Pardoes, said: “The first full working week after Christmas when the kids have gone back to school is typically the time when couples whose relationships have been on the rocks for some time will often call it a day.

“The Christmas holiday period is usually a pivotal time when couples will make a last ditch attempt to affect some kind of reconciliation. But sometimes, it is this enforced time together that leads couples to make that final decision.”

“The continuing credit crunch is not helping either,” continues Kit. “Certainly last year, financial concerns seemed to be the final nail in the marital coffin for many British couples. With no sign of a let up in the difficult economic climate this year, we are expecting money issues to top of the list of contributing factors to divorce in 2010.”

Though the divorce rate is falling nationally, the number of couples who filed for divorce in the region is still significant. Taunton County Court have filed 610 petitions and Yeovil have filed 497 to date.

Despite being happily married herself for 11 years, Kit has had to see many couples undergo divorce proceedings during her 18 year career as a family law expert. “It is a difficult job to do,” added Kit. “There is nothing more traumatic than breaking up with a loved one, particularly when children are involved.

“When someone comes to see me, I know they are probably emotionally at rock bottom. People need to be handled with great care and sensitivity.”

The good news is that though many couples who instruct a solicitor regard this as the final step to separation, this is often not the case.

Kit says that a surprisingly high number of those who come to instruct her to commence divorce proceedings, manage to work out their differences and avoid the whole painful process.

However, for those who really feel it is time to take the plunge, Kit can offer advice on how to reduce the trauma of divorce.

· If you haven’t done so, visit a relationship counsellor such as Relate. These professionals may help you to find a way to save your relationship.

· It takes two to create a breakdown in a marriage. So one party shouldn’t burden themselves with all the guilt.

· Don’t use children as pawns or to score points off each other. In the long term you are far more likely to damage your own relationship with your children than your ex’s.

· Use a solicitor who can offer you a choice of different processes to help you resolve your dispute. Only a minority of cases are ultimately resolved by contested court proceedings. You may be interested in mediation whereby the two of you work with a mediator to reach a mutually acceptable solution to all your issues, thus reducing the amount of money you have to spend on separate solicitors.

· You may want to talk to a solicitor trained in the practice of collaborative law. This is a relatively new way of dealing with family disputes in which all negotiations are done in four way meetings of both parties and their solicitors.

· Choose your solicitor carefully. Going for the cheapest deal may not be the best course of action in the long run. Make sure your solicitor is someone you can work with and trust.

· Be prepared to compromise. Sorting out arrangements for finances, housing and children can be very expensive. It is never, ever, worth arguing over the TV; you will pay more in the costs of so doing than it will cost you to buy a new one.

· However raw you are feeling, try and take the drama out of divorce and act with dignity. If you do this, you are far more likely to emerge from it feeling positive rather than broken.

Kit O’Brien from Pardoes is trained in collaborative law and offers free initial consultations to all her clients.