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Divorce Filings Skyrocket During the Holidays 

Sept. 22, 2022

As a divorce mediator I have noticed a troubling, sad fact:  more people file for divorce during the holidays or right after.  There is something about the atmosphere of family and tradition that seems to bring everything to a boiling point; Thanksgiving and Christmas in particular emphasize family and togetherness.  For a spouse in the throes of an affair, separation from their affair partner during this time leaves a large and agonizing emptiness.  They come to the inevitable reality that they can no longer put off divorce and that being with their “soulmate” must become their number one focus. Thus, it’s off to the attorney to draw up divorce papers and hand them to the unsuspecting spouse during what is supposed to be the happiest time of the year. 

For other marriages not besieged by infidelity, financial lack is especially emphasized during Christmas.  Pressures from dwindling or non-existent bank accounts are the second most reported reasons for dissolutions, with infidelity as the number one. According to a Money Magazine Survey, couples fight twice as much about money as they do sex. And in our material driven culture, Christmas expenses just amp up the conflict.  Many families struggle with debilitating debt and no solution in sight, with usually one spouse who is the “spender” and the other the “saver.”  In these scenarios, the “spender” comes to the end of their rope and wants out from under the mountain of crushing financial pressure and plans to “start over” in the new year. 

Other struggling marriages just can’t keep up appearances any longer.  The juxtaposition of a miserable marriage against the idealism of family solidarity and unity can’t be borne any longer.  The marriage falls apart amidst the tinsel, bright lights, and background melody of “Silent Night.” Usually, one of the spouses has carefully stored up an arsenal of slights, offenses, and abusive behavior received at the hands of the other oblivious spouse.  Their volcano of pain comes to eruption, and they explode; and there is nothing anyone can do to talk them out of leaving. 

Legal experts have nicknamed January, “Divorce Month” since its the time of year with the most legal breakups. This appears to be well known to some legal professionals who take the last two weeks of the year off to get ready for the rush. 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. Although filings are most popular in January, disenchanted husbands and wives begin searching for information on divorce immediately after the holidays. There is a huge increase in attorney’s and mediator 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.