FAMILY law experts have warned celebrity divorces have led to the belief that divorce is an easy option, to coincide with the day of the year likely to see the greatest number of couples seek legal action.

The first Monday back to work after the festive period is often the busiest time for couples filing for divorce, but many could find it more difficult and costly than they first thought.

Solicitor Siobhan Kelly, from Glasgow-based law firm HBM Sayers, claims celebrity magazines and some newspapers give the impression it is uncomplicated and can lead people to believe the rules are the same everywhere.

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However, she warned that legislation in Scotland means issues surrounding finance and children must be resolved before a divorce can proceed, while in England that is not the case. A poll by English law firm Pannone showed that 57% of people agree "it is too easy to divorce these days".

Ms Kelly said: "Celebrity magazines and others regularly publish celebrity divorces. They easily attract the attention of the public and can create the impression that divorce is easy.

"The best example of this which I can think of is the Cheryl Cole and Ashley Cole divorce, where in my understanding Cheryl Cole was able to divorce Ashley Cole on the basis of his behaviour.

"He did not contest that and the divorce in England was granted before any financial arrangements were ultimately agreed between the parties.

"In Scotland, the court will not grant divorce until all arrangements for the care and upbringing of children of the marriage under the age of 16 years are determined or agreed by the parties and financial provision has been determined by the court or agreed by the parties."

She added: "Clients are often surprised by how complicated it can be if they require to embark upon a court process, because people tend to think they can be divorced separately from the arrangements for the children and financial provision having been determined."

Last year in the UK the number of dissolved marriages increased by 5% – the first rise in divorce for almost a decade.

Ms Kelly believes in Scotland this can be attributed to a reduction in the length of time couples have to be separated before they can divorce.

This was reduced to one year if both partners consent, and to two years without consent, in May 2006.

Prior to this, people had to wait two years or five years unless adultery or behaviour within the marriage was an issue.

The solicitor said: "The 5% jump in divorces in the UK last year may be due to the operation of the reduction of the separation, non-cohabitation periods and the number of marriages where there are no children so that simplified divorce is possible with the same reduced separation periods.

"The reduction of the separation periods meant people no longer had the same reliance upon adultery and divorce grounds which still can have a certain stigma."

Ms Kelly added that people may also have been waiting for the end of the financial crisis and after realising it was going to last a lot longer, decided there was no point delaying the divorce further.

However, she also claimed some people may still be put off proceeding with the action due to poor property and financial markets.

She said: "I do believe people are putting off divorce or even separating because they anticipate it is potentially better to wait until such times as they see how the property and financial markets will develop in the next couple of years.

"People may consider it is better to wait for an improvement in the markets before realising assets rather than transferring them to the other spouse in the current deflated markets."