Summertime Blues 

Published on 24 June, 2024 | Matt Hodgson

As I sit here trying to write, it is difficult to concentrate due to the sound of sports fans across the country rubbing their hands with glee.

Whether we’re football or cricket fans, lovers of golf and tennis or simply afficionados of sport in general, there’s plenty to keep us occupied at the moment.

Attending the European Championships in Germany, the T20 World Cup in the US and the Caribbean, Wimbledon or the Paris Olympics will make ticket holders the envy of many but it isn’t exactly an inexpensive exercise.

Nevertheless, whether you’re there in person or staying put in the UK and tuning into wall-to-wall coverage, there is another potential cost to be borne in mind.

That’s because support for your favoured nation, sportsman or woman could, if you’re not careful, be construed as putting them before family members at a time when summer holidays assume their own importance.

It is something which is clear from our own caseload and that of our family law peers.

Preparations for vacations, for instance, do not solely involve deciding whether to stay in the UK or jet off to foreign climes.

Separated parents need to determine childcare arrangements when school is out. When they are unable to agree, they may apply for what is known as a Specific Issue Order (SIO).

In addition to how, where and with whom children holiday, SIOs can also be used if parents are in dispute about things like as a child’s schooling.

All that, in part, accounts for why figures issued by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) show that most applications for SIOs mostly occur between April and September (

Whilst one parent might regard a congested schedule of elite sporting competition as too good to miss, to another it might constitute a complication or source of friction.

The same goes for individuals who want to use summer to participate in activities which just do not hold the same appeal for their partners.

It is one reason why myself and my colleagues find ourselves to be so busy before and after the summer season.

The first three months of the year are the busiest for enquiries from unhappy spouses looking to end their marriages but autumn can be almost as busy.

Again, our experience mirrors the MoJ’s records which highlight that the period after the summer break has seen the second highest tranche of applications for divorce in recent years.

In my experience, though, summer rarely provides the single flashpoint which might cause a relationship to implode.

Quite frequently, it demonstrates that existing difficulties are, sadly, insurmountable. The effect of such a realisation can be most distressing for individuals who might have believed that time away from work and home might fix their troubles – the fabled ‘band aid holiday’, if you will.

Whenever we receive such an enquiry, we always make sure that – in the wording of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 ( – a marriage has irretrievably broken down before proceeding.

As a result of marriage guidance counselling, couples can occasionally appreciate that they do not have to part.

There are some people for whom breaking point is reached because of apparent indulgence on the part of their husbands or wives and who suggest that they should be entitled to factor the amounts involved into calculations about how their joint marital assets are divided.

Although these arguments are far from uncommon, they generally do not succeed unless the sums are exceptionally high.

Successive cases have emphasised that, even then, there would need to evidence of what is referred to as a “wanton dissipation of assets” (

That position may remain after the Law Commission publishes a “scoping report” later this year into possible reforms of the legislation governing financial settlements on divorce (

By then, of course, we will not only know the outcome of the summer’s major sporting contests but will have learned if devotion to one team leads to the breakdown of another.

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