Is January Divorce Month?

The BBC reports that the first Monday of the New Year has long been known among U.K. solicitors and counsellors (in the U.S. lawyers) as “Divorce Day”. However, in Wales and increasingly around the world, it appears this divorce phenomenon is turning January into “Divorce Month”.

Divorce New Years

New Year, New You

One law firm in the U.K. has reported to the BBC that enquiries in January have spiked at about 150% of the November, December and February average. A relationship counselling charity also said it had seen an increase in couple’s asking for help.

“In terms of stressors on a relationship, Christmas can be right up there with moving house or having a child. There’s the pressure of being cooped up at home with your extended family, or at the other end of the spectrum, not seeing as much of them as you’d like because of work commitments.”

The phenomenon on divorce filings in January is not unique to Wales either. In general, many family lawyers in North America report a rise of nearly one-third in business in the New Year. In fact The president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (the AAML), says he typically sees a spike of 25% to 30% every year in January.

Being cooped up in a house for several days when a marriage is experiencing serious problems — while dealing with the pressure to put on a happy face for the kids and visiting relatives — takes its toll on the most stoic of couples.

Holiday time is usually a time when U.S. lawyers (in the U.K. solicitors and counsellors) get a spike in consultations and in being retained by clients. Holiday time is usually fraught with a lot of tension, emotion and financial issues, which is usually the trigger.

Florida No-Fault Divorce

The official term for divorce in Florida is “dissolution of marriage”, and you don’t need fault as a ground for divorce. Florida abolished fault as a ground for divorce.

I’ve written about divorce and statistics – such as the the new year phenomenon – before. The no-fault concept in Florida means you no longer have to prove a reason for the divorce, like your husband’s alleged infidelity with a congresswoman. Instead, you just need to state under oath that your marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

Before the no-fault divorce era, people who wanted to get divorce either had to reach agreement in advance with the other spouse that the marriage was over, or throw mud at each other and prove wrongdoing like adultery or abuse.

No-fault laws were the result of trying to change the way divorces played out in court. No fault laws have reduced the number of feuding couples who felt the need to resort to distorted facts, lies, and the need to focus the trial on who did what to whom.

Wailing in Wales

In Wales, one lawyer reports rising inflation and costs for good is having an impact on filing for divorce this year. He is finding that there is increasing anxiety over the rise of prices, and wailing about how to heat the home, never mind finding money for Christmas presents. He also reported the Christmas break was a snapshot of what couples experienced during the height of the Covid pandemic.

One charity said many couples expected their relationships to come under increased strain over the coming months, with financial worries, mental health problems and the pressure to create the perfect Christmas cited as reasons.

The pressure seems to be universal, across all ages, married or cohabiting, and straight or same-sex relationships, though the causes do vary according to their age. For the under 35s money worries account for about half the problems identified, with the difficulties of having to live with parents if you can’t afford your own home, and the increase in prices.

However for older couples other factors come into play, such as parenting, and the toll of caring for elderly relatives in an aging population. Communication is vital at any stage of a relationship, but especially so in the early days. Often counselling can help them to understand what has gone wrong, to part as amicably as possible, and avoid making the same mistakes in future relationships.

In Florida, you can file for divorce, and then you have a period of time before you have to serve the papers. Most unhappy spouses wait until after the turkey has been carved, the gifts have been unwrapped, and the new year has started.

The BBC article is here.

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