New York, NY- The holidays are over and the winter has set in, but outside isn’t the only place where people feel the chill. Many couples also feel the chill in their relationships now that the warm and fuzzy feelings of the holidays have passed. This coldness between married couples is stark, and the New Year can herald new beginnings so some couples resolve to shed their old life and unhappy marriages by filing for divorce.
January is commonly known in legal circles as “Divorce Month,” though March is coming in at a close second. According to statistics from eDivorcepapers.com more petitions for legal separation are filed during the month of January than any other month. Cathy Meyer, a certified divorce consultant told Huffington Post, “January consistently sees the most divorce filings. It just really amazes me, though it shouldn’t… my own husband left in January.”
Meyer who also started her DivorcedWomenOnline.com said although divorce filings flood the offices of attorneys in January, estranged spouses begin their research in the weeks before Christmas and the week after.
“I see a huge surge in increase in page views the day after Christmas. People start researching 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 divorce filings,” Meyer said.
In anticipation of increased January filings, many attorneys take the last two weeks of the year off, knowing they will be very busy.
But why is January divorce month? There are a number of pragmatic and emotional factors people consider when filing for divorce.
On the pragmatic level, waiting until January to file has everything to do with taxes. December 31st marks the end of the tax year and waiting until then will allow a couple to file a joint return. An earlier filing makes filling out tax forms much more complicated.
For couples who have children, they want to preserve the magic and happiness of the holiday season. They wait to file for divorce so the holidays can be remembered as a joyful time full of good cheer as opposed to the end of the world; a child’s world comes crashing down when their parent’s split.
While the holidays are a generally perceived as joyful time, it can also be stressful and a person can experience extreme highs and lows. The emotional roller coaster of the holiday season can push a person to their emotional breaking point and they can’t imagine living through that again.
Divorce filings spike in January, but they continue to rise until the peak in March. After a brief lull, divorce filings rise again in August, especially for couples with children. This is mainly because of school. Since school offers stability to children, parents who plan to relocate to a new school district want to give their children the opportunity to finish the school year before they are uprooted and have to start a new school.
Regardless of whether you file in January or other time of the year know that the initial petition for divorce is just the beginning. Many states require a couple be legally separated for six months to a year before their divorce can be finalized. Then you must enter into negotiations with your estranged spouse over asset division and child custody, a process that could take months, and if the split is especially contentious, divorce proceedings could take years.