On behalf of The Law Office of Gustavo E. Frances, P.A.
While people can file for divorce at any time, new research is showing a seasonal trend. According to research done by the University of Washington, divorce filings consistently peak in March and August. This result shows that divorce filings may be governed by a domestic ritual pattern that drives family behavior.
It is also noted that the holidays are emotionally charged and stressful times for couples. This can expose the inherent unhappiness in a marriage if it exists. When the holidays fail to live up to expectations, divorce filings rise following the holidays.
Think about it. Filing for divorce over the Christmas or summer holidays may be considered inappropriate. There is also the fact that many couples use the holiday season for one last attempt at marital happiness. They want to stay together through the holidays at Christmas or plan that one last summer vacation. They also may not want to disrupt the season for children.
But March is several months after the holidays have concluded and August is typically the final month of summer vacation. Why the difference?
Julie Brines, associate professor of psychology at the University of Washington, suggests that for March, couples need time to get financial paperwork in order. They also need time to find an attorney. They may even need the time to summon the courage to file for divorce.
Brines also suggests that August sees more divorces because, for couples with children, the timeline is hastened. They may want to get the children enrolled in a new school after summer vacations.
However, the legal community may not necessarily agree with the study’s findings. Within legal circles, January is known as “divorce month.” This differs from the pattern found at the University of Washington, but it is confirmed by certified divorce consultant Cathy Meyer and divorce attorney James Gross of the Maryland-based law firm Thyden Gross & Callahan. Both say that divorce filings peak in January.
According to legal help sites like FindLaw.com, searches for divorce and related keywords spike in January. This surge continues through March, falling a bit in line with both the University of Washington study and the term “divorce month” in legal circles. Westlaw, an online legal research site for lawyers, says that divorce filings spike in January and continue to grow, peaking in March. Again, this falls in line with the University of Washington study.
Why January? The reasons are the same, typically, as Brines pointed out. Couples may want to stick it out through the holidays for the children. There is also one possible major factor for the rise of divorce filings in January: taxes. Your marital status as of December 31st determines whether you file a joint or an individual tax return. Divorcing at other times of the year can lead to complicated tax filings and, in some cases, lead to owing taxes.
Though the University of Washington study has yet to be peer-reviewed, the researchers have found that the results aren’t atypical. They searched Washington divorce filings as well as those from Ohio, Minnesota, Florida, and Arizona as these states have similar divorce laws to Washington. They found similar patterns in divorce filings across all the states.
Regardless of the month, you want to get a divorce, Gustavo Frances, Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer, is here to help answer your questions. There are so many factors that play into a divorce, you need someone experienced on your side. Give our offices a call for a free consultation.