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If you’re considering divorce in December, you’re not alone

On behalf of Dolan + Zimmerman LLP December 19, 2020

It might be that the stress of the holiday season itself is responsible for some marriages ending. It can be a lot to take on. Or, you might be sticking it out for the holidays so you don’t ruin the season for your kids. Perhaps the prospect of a new year ahead of you has prompted your interest in divorce.

Whatever the reason, January has earned a reputation as “divorce month.” But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start thinking it over in December.

“By the end of it, many people feel like, ‘I do not want to ever go through this holiday period again with this person,’” one attorney told USA TODAY.

That may be enough.

Another reason people may wish to file the first thing in January is to get started on the waiting period. In Colorado, there is a mandatory 90-day waiting period to divorce. Filing right away gets that 90-day period started.

How common is divorce in January?

It’s hard to say exactly what percentage of divorces are filed in January. It’s complicated by the fact that both marriage and divorce have been declining over the past decade or so. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the divorce and annulment rate in 2017 was 8% lower than it was in 2007.

We do know that Google Trends reports the topic “divorce” peaks in the first couple of weeks of January. And, between December 2018 to January 2019, Pinterest queries about divorce parties jumped by about 21%.

Researchers have noticed the trend, as well. For example, a 2016 University of Washington study examined 15 years of divorce filings in that state and found a definite increase in January filings over those in December. The same trend was found in a variety of other states, pointing to a nationwide trend.

A couple of things to consider

It may all come down to this: Nobody wants to announce a divorce in the middle of the busy, happy holiday season. Saving the news for later gives you one final chance to enjoy the holiday with the entire family.

Moreover, you may find that the holiday season is too busy and fraught a time to allow a rational discussion. If you have children, you’re going to be tied to their other parent for life, regardless of whether you remain married. You will have to co-parent with that person and see them at a variety of family events over the years. You may want to wait until a calmer period before you bring up your intention to file for divorce.

When you’re ready to take the next step, contact an experienced lawyer for help.