Is January Really "Divorce Month"?

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two roses in the snow
January and divorce: the new year brings a new marital status for some unhappy couples.

January is the coldest month of the year, and, apparently, the Arctic vibe extends beyond the temperature. The first month of the new year is reportedly the most popular time of year to file for divorce. Rumor has it that January is ominously nicknamed "Divorce Month" in legal circles. Sure, the holidays are hectic, and relationship issues can come into sharper focus when stressed-out couples spend more time together. But is January's bad rap really deserved?

The Biggest Divorce Month Is…
For better or worse, the numbers suggest that "Divorce Month" is real. According to statistics published by eDivorcePapers.com, January has the most legal breakups.

Certified divorce consultant Cathy Meyer agrees: "Absolutely. January consistently sees the most divorce filings. It just really amazes me, though it probably shouldn't. . .my own husband left in January."

Divorce lawyer James Gross of Maryland-based law firm Thyden Gross & Callahan confirms that the "Divorce Month" phenomenon is well-known to law professionals, explaining, "Some attorneys take the last two weeks of the year off to get ready for the rush. January really does see a lot of divorces."

The most popular filing date varies, depending on who you ask. Some organizations have gone beyond "Divorce Month" to identify a single "D-Day". The Legal Services Commission claims that "the first Monday after the kids return to school" sees the most filings, while the Telegraph has said that "the start of the first full working week after the holidays" is the year's biggest divorce day.

Meyer, who founded DivorcedWomenOnline.com, says that though filings are most popular in January, disenchanted husbands and wives begin searching for information on divorce immediately after the holidays. "I see a huge increase in pageviews and searches the day after Christmas. People start looking for information before the New Year starts, but they can't do much until the attorneys are back in the office. January 12–16 seems to be the magic week for filings."

Why January?
Meyer believes there are a multitude of reasons people wait until January, but notes that the decision is especially common in families with children. "What I hear from my clients is that they were struggling with the marriage before the holiday season. If they have children, the holidays are supposed to be a magical time, so they commit to giving the kids one last happy holiday as an intact family. By January, if it's still not working, they know it's time to move on." How To Get A Divorce

He says that many of the cases he sees in January are the result of year-end reflections and resolutions. "Unhappy spouses assess their situation and say to themselves, 'I just can't take another year like this.' The holidays are also a time when emotions run high and if you are unhappy or angry in your marriage, the holidays may push those feelings to the breaking point."

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