Continuing Freeths theme of the 12 days of Christmas I would like to address the issue of alcohol at Christmas.

As a family lawyer, I  never cease to be amazed at the number of people who, when they come in to see me or my colleagues because they are at the end of their tether with their partner, recite particulars of the reasons why they consider that the marriage has ended and the number of times that excessive use of alcohol comes into the picture.  Most people enjoy a drink or two and at Christmas that can easily become three, four, five …… and so on.  People who drink to excess can, as we know, act in very different ways.  They might become abusive - either physically, emotionally, verbally or all three.  This, of course, impacts on the wellbeing of the other party either physically or emotionally or both and if this happens on regular occasions, Christmas can be just the sort of occasion that pushes them over the edge - the straw that broke the Christmas donkey's back.

It is probably therefore best to remember in all the goodwill and merriment that it is fine to have a drink or two but if this leads to drinking to excess it might be better to ensure that either you have the willpower to stick to just one or two or ask a friend to act as your drinkometer and prevent over indulgence.  Also beware the office party where merriment can and has in some cases led to far more serious consequences e.g. infidelity.  Also, if you are going to overindulge and if you want to avoid a night in the cells, remember to arrange a taxi, a lift with a friend or walk home rather than drink drive which not only risks your licence and a night in the cells but also risks the lives of yourself and others.

Christmas is meant to be the season of goodwill but it can soon turn into the season of ill will if adequate care is not taken.  Family lawyers find the period after Christmas and the New Year is usually extremely busy as the stress of Christmas and the New Year can finish what might have been a fragile relationship prior to Christmas in any event.  It is sad but true.