January is the time of new year’s resolutions. Maybe it is sober January or going to the gym. Maybe there are professional goals to work toward. But, the first month of the year also signals a surge in calls about getting divorced. While there are months with higher divorce rates, there are definitely reasons why some refer to January as “divorce month.”
Timing is everything
There are several benefits to starting the process in January:
- The holidays are over: Whether it is couples wanting to avoid awkward questions during family gatherings or parents not wanting to spoil the holidays for the children, many couples wait until after the holidays to start the process.
- The last straw: Rocky marriages go one of two ways around the holiday, bringing out the best or worst in the relationship. While the holidays can reinvigorate that sense of family, often the mix of holiday expenses, busier social schedules and year-end crunch time at work is a lethal cocktail.
- Taxes: Preparing taxes is an excellent opportunity for spouses to make copies of all the necessary information regarding income and other financial details, which they can then discuss with an attorney.
It’s actually cyclical
January gained its reputation through lawyers noting that phones started ringing with inquiries after New Year’s Day. Some even reported 25% to 30% increases in business after the holidays. In fact, this trend also was tracked by a British survey, which found that one in five couples planned to file after the holidays.
This may be true, but a University of Washington study found that January started a rise in numbers that crested in March. Then the rates go back down until the end of summer – September is another popular month because big summer travel plans are done, and the kids go back to school. After that spike, the numbers trend downward until the beginning of the new year.
When is the right time?
Families have different family traditions and schedules, so their timing may involve those unique circumstances. While it is vital to act quickly if the spouse does not feel safe in the marriage, early in the new year remains an excellent time to gather information and make plans for the future, even when it involves divorce.