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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

By: Dana M. Horlick, Attorney, Woodruff Family Law Group

Directly after the holidays happens to be one of the busiest times of the year for divorce attorneys when it comes to divorce filings. The increase in divorce filings is a trend that is seen nationwide, including here in Greensboro, North Carolina. According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, there is typically a spike of 25% to 30% in divorce filings every year in January. There is a similar trend in the United Kingdom, where one in five couples plan to divorce after the holidays.

Now when you think about it, this trend makes sense, given the nature of the holidays themselves and the sometimes adversarial nature of the divorce filings themselves. There are several factors at play when it comes to the uptick in divorce filings right after the holidays and at the start of the new year.

One thread deals with the holidays as a precipitating factor towards a divorce filing. The holidays may be a stressful time for couples, especially when there are already difficulties in the marriage. There is the financial stress of getting through the holidays and purchasing the presents. There is also the factor of spending time with your in-laws or just having an increased amount of family time. You might be in the house with your partner for an extended period. If there are problems already present in the marriage this can become an issue; even without pre-existing problems, this may place a strain on the relationship. Having to put on a happy face for your relatives and your children can also be very stressful.

The other thread deals with the holidays as a preventative or delaying factor towards a divorce filing. These are holidays with a heavy emphasis on family. Many people will delay filing for a divorce during this time, so as not to serve their partner with divorce papers during the holiday. Delaying until after the holidays is especially true when the parties have children. Having your parents split up during the holidays can be a very difficult time for a child, particularly when you take into consideration the age of the child. This difficulty will cause some parties to wait to file, so as not to have their children associate the holidays with divorce in the future.

An additional factor comes with the start of the new year itself. The beginning of the new year is when many people make New Year’s Resolutions. Many tend to get more introspective and reflective on themselves, their relationships, and the past year. This moment to think back may reveal stressors and strains on their marriage. Their New Year’s Resolution may be to get out of what has become an unhealthy or unloving relationship. This mindset is also a factor to be taken into consideration when looking at what influences the increase in divorce filings after the holidays and at the start of the new year.

No matter the reason for the increased divorce filings, it is important for individuals seeking a divorce to consult an experienced divorce attorney to assist them in this process. The experienced attorney can advise the client as to the timing of the filing of the divorce proceeding. The experienced attorney can also advise the client on what steps the client should be taking leading up to the filing of the divorce. The steps to prepare for a divorce filing is important information to know, and an attorney can be extremely useful in this process.