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Do Divorces Spike Over the Holidays?


Every year, divorce attorneys and the family law courts tend to see a lull in divorce cases during the holidays – but it is always followed by a spike in divorce filings immediately after the new year. January is sometimes referred to as “Divorce Month” because of this phenomenon. This points to tension and problems that arise during the holidays and result in the couple calling it quits once the season for celebrating is over.

Why Are the Holidays Often the Breaking Point for Couples?

Lawyers tend to see a spike in divorce interest over the holidays, including more searches being performed on Google for information about divorce. Yet the actual petitions are being filed more often at the start of the new year – mainly, January through March. The post-holiday season is often busy for divorce courts due to couples that split up or decided to call it quits over the holidays but wait until the season is over to file. This points to the holidays being the breaking point for many married couples.

Experts attribute this to certain stressors that are present for many people around the holidays, such as:

  • Financial stress from purchasing gifts or traveling.
  • Stress related to planning and attending events.
  • Coordinating schedules, taking time off work and booking flights.
  • Family members visiting from out of town.
  • The children are home from school full-time.
  • Both spouses are at home together more often.
  • A perceived lack of emotional connection during the holidays.
  • Additional stress connected to COVID-19 and social distancing.
  • New Year’s resolutions and new personal goals.

An array of stress connected to the holidays can increase negative emotions around this time and ultimately result in the demise of a relationship. But the divorce rate tends to decrease during the period from the Jewish New Year in September through New Year’s Day, then spike afterward. Many couples who decide they want to get divorced over the holidays wait until they’re over to file the paperwork. Couples often do not want to spoil the holiday for their kids and families, or they may wait until they have returned home from holiday travel. Some couples simply wait in the hope that things will get better after the tensions of the holidays have subsided.

How to Handle Holiday Stress in Your Relationship

The holidays may lead to an influx in divorce petitions in the new year, but this does not mean dissolving your marriage is inevitable this holiday season. It may be possible to save your marriage and reconcile with your spouse, especially if you are prepared ahead of time for potential sources of stress that are associated with the holidays.

Do what you can to simplify your holidays if you and your spouse are already on unsteady ground. Opt to stay home rather than travel, for example, and limit the number of family members that visit you this year. Cut down on financial stress by using a spending cap or doing homemade gifts instead. The biggest key is to communicate. Talk openly with your spouse about your issues to improve the odds of making it through the holidays together. If times become hard, consider talking to a therapist to work through it together. 

Considering a Divorce This Holiday Season? Get Help From an Attorney

If your relationship problems are not just a seasonal trend, it may be time for a change. Filing for divorce immediately after the holidays may take more time, as law firms and courtrooms are often backed up due to an influx in divorce petitions being filed. You don’t have to wait, however, to start the process. Contact a divorce attorney near you to start discussing your case and the groundwork that is necessary to get divorced, such as gathering your financial records. You and your spouse can start organizing property division and parenting time schedules, as well, to make your divorce easier once your paperwork is processed.

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