Among divorce lawyers, it was an article of faith that January would bring an uptick – if not a surge – in new business.
After all, couples had made it through the stress of the holiday season, keeping up appearances, but with the start of a new year were ready to make a clean break. January was widely considered “divorce month.”
But that may not be the case. According to a new analysis of divorce filings and searches for divorce-related information on the Internet, March is the true “Divorce Month,” according to Internet legal site FindLaw.com.
The company analyzed searches for “divorce” and related phrases such as “family law” and “child custody” and found these searches jumped 50 percent – from just over 10,000 in December 2010 to nearly 16,000 in January 2011, and continued to surge through March. “Divorce” has been the No. 1 searched term on FindLaw.com since February 2010.
At the same time, FindLaw.com said it analyzed divorce filings across the U.S. between 2008 and 2011 with Westlaw, the leading legal research database. The analysis revealed that divorces spike in January, continue to rise and peak in late March.
Mark Ohnstad, an attorney with the Minneapolis law firm Thomsen Nybeck, says there may be several important factors as to why January is such a key time of year for seeking divorce information.
“While they’ve been thinking about divorce for some time, and taking steps such as obtaining marital counseling to save their marriage, many men and women may put off their decision to file to avoid additional stress during the holiday season,” said Ohnstad, who has practiced law for more than 30 years. “Couples with children may want to have one last holiday season together as a family.”
For others, the stress of in-laws, money troubles and career challenges coupled with the pressures to “be happy” during the holidays leads some men and women to cheat on their spouses during this time.
There's actually some research to back that up. Marriage therapist Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil says a study on holiday depression noted that of those who cheat on their spouses, 56 percent of men and 42 percent of women do so during the holiday season.
These affairs may trigger post-New Year’s divorce filings by spouses who discover the affairs or by the cheating spouse who now wants to end the marriage.