Divorce After the Holidays: When The Lights Come Down, The Divorce Papers Are Filed

The holidays are full of family fun.  Parents, children, and extended family gather to decorate, bake, baste turkeys, wrap presents, select a Christmas tree, and the like.  For some, the holidays are also stress-filled, with gift expectations, visits with family you otherwise try to avoid, and much bustling activity.   The holidays represent the end of the road for a select group of married couples.  Once the Christmas lights come down and the decorations are stored, legal proceedings begin to ensure this will be their last holiday season spent as a married couple.

January is the most popular month for couples to file for divorce.  Divorce attorneys often refer to January as “Divorce Month” and many take vacation time in advance of January so they are well-rested heading into the busy divorce season.  Divorce gurus debate the most popular day of the month for filing, with some urging the first Monday after the kids go to school is the busiest time, while others argue it is the first full working week after the holidays that sends couples running to the courthouse.  The popular website DivorcedWomenOnline.com reports a huge increase in the number of page views and searches the day after Christmas, suggesting some husbands and wives become disenchanted in the marriage during this time period but must wait until after attorneys are back in their offices, generally around January 12-16, to file.

The Divorce Month phenomenon begs the question, why do so many people file for divorce in January?  Here is a list of common theories for the spike of January divorces:

  1. Let the kids enjoy the holidays—many parents with children may have been anticipating a divorce months before the holidays, but opt to wait to begin formal proceedings until after Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Years so that the holidays are not ruined for their children.  This “wait till after the holidays” school of thought then results in a glut of divorce filings in early January, once the excitement of the holiday season has passed.
  2. The marriage cannot survive the holidays—for some husbands and wives, the stress, excitement, and expectations are what push an already faltering marriage over the brink.  Emotions tend to run high during the holiday season.  Most people are off work for an extended period of time, forcing couples to spend more time together than they ordinarily would.  Add in a mix of snide comments from relatives, the need to act “merry” even if you are not, and the always overwhelming challenge of selecting the perfect gift for your spouse, and you can see why some couples exit the holidays vowing never to do it again.
  3. The New Year is a time for fresh beginnings—many people, especially in this down economy, may have been stalling getting a divorce for months.  They know the marriage is over but keep waiting for that right time to formally begin proceedings.  For some, the cost is prohibitive as well.  The New Year and its promise for a fresh start is the push many couples need to finally file for divorce.  Further, financially, filing after the holidays can have tax benefits.

Matthew S. Poole is a compassionate Mississippi divorce attorney who provides his clients with the highest quality legal representation available.  Matthew Poole understands how difficult the holidays can be on some couples and is here to help you.  For a thorough explanation of your rights in the event of a divorce and your filing options, contact Matthew today at (601) 573-7429 for a free initial consultation.