Law firms say two million couples could seek advice on divorce this year
There is likely to be a sharp rise in the number of children seeking help with the pain of their parents' separations, ChildLine has warned.
The phone counselling service says more than one child a day calls the hotline because of arguments at home.
More couples are expected to contact lawyers about a divorce on Monday than at any other time.
The charity said parents should reassure their children, many of whom will be "scared and bewildered".
Financial pressures caused by the economic downturn and looming recession are likely to put further pressure on marriages.
ChildLine boss Sue Minto said: "Divorcing parents can be overwhelmed by feelings like anger, sadness, and helplessness.
"This often makes it hard to focus on the wishes and needs of scared and bewildered children whose lives are about to be turned upside down.
"Parental separation is a crisis for children as well as adults. Children suffer deeply when the adults they love fall into conflict. They are deeply upset by the hurt, pain and confusion of divorce."
TIPS FOR DIVORCING PARENTS
Tell children you love them
Listen and comfort them
Reinforce the split is not their fault
Be as honest as possible
Try to keep the daily routine normal
Try to share childcare responsibilities
She added they could be helped to adjust to divorce if they are told how much they are loved.
Law firms predict two million couples could seek advice about divorce this year.
Divorce lawyer James Stewart, from Manches LLP, said: "A stressful Christmas is already often the final straw for marriages in trouble.
"The double whammy of Christmas and the credit crunch will make the first full week of January one of the busiest ever."
And Relate, the UK's largest provider of relationship support, said it had seen a 59% surge in calls over the festive period.
ChildLine is run by The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).
An advice guide for parents on how to help their children deal with divorce has been published on the Your Family website.
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