How to stop a break becoming a break-up

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The Independent Online
COUPLES IN rocky relationships are taking legal advice before braving summer holidays together. Divorce lawyers report a rash of new cases involving clients who cannot bear the thought of spending a fortnight in the close company of a spouse or partner.

Some want their lawyer to advise on how best to cope with the stress the holiday places on the relationship, while others go on holiday with the sole intention of ending the partnership.

Pauline Fowler, a divorce solicitor with the top London law firm Bates, Wells and Braithwaite, said she had five new referrals in the past three months in which clients were looking for legal advice on how to handle fraught vacations. "Some come in a bit of panic, having not had time to think that they will be eyeball-to-eyeball for such a long time," Ms Fowler said.

Most, say the lawyers, are seeking reassurance or guidance on how to have a trouble-free break. But for spouses bent on divorce the lawyer can advise on the best tactics to adopt or what to do if the holiday turns into a two-week shouting match.

Carolyn Green, a member of the Law Society's family law committee and a regional director of the counselling service Relate, said she had detected a greater willingness among clients to speak to her before holidays. She advised clients to wait until they returned home before informing the partner of their intention to divorce. "If you try telling someone on foreign soil it will add to the stress," she said.

The lawyers say more men seek pre-emptive legal holiday advice than women. Typically, said Ms Fowler, it was professionals, couples who led very busy lives and had not had time to confront the failings of their relationships. "Many modern couples aren't used to spending more than one day a week together," she added.

On holiday everything is brought to a head, Ms Fowler believes, and she said that this prospect often filled people with dread.