New research suggests that divorce is more common after biannual holiday seasons, with statistics showing that divorce filings peak during March and August each year. Learn more below from our Peachtree City divorce attorney.
The research undertaken by an associate sociology professor, Julie Brines and doctoral candidate Brian Serafini analyzed divorce filings made in Washington State from 2001 to 2015. Ironically, they weren’t looking for any kind of pattern in divorce filings and hadn’t anticipated finding that divorce is seasonal. Rather, they were trying to identify how the economic recession in the US, and its typical effects like declining property prices and rising unemployment, had affected marital stability.
They were as surprised to discover that there is a distinct pattern when it comes to divorce filings. And it wasn’t just in Washington State; Brines and Serafini extended their research to Arizona, Florida, Minnesota, and Ohio, and found that the same pattern was evident in these states too.
Why Divorce is Seasonal
The two researchers explain the pattern of seasonal divorce in terms of the two main holiday seasons (in winter and summer), both of which they believe are “culturally sacred” for families.
Firstly, there is a basic taboo against filing for divorce during the holiday season in general.
Secondly, many troubled couples identify the holidays as a good time to heal rifts and “mend” relationships. Brines identifies it as a kind of “optimism cycle” because the holidays represent an opportunity for change.
The problem, though, is that holidays can be stressful and charged with emotion, leading to the risk of additional breakdown. Often unhappy couples become disillusioned when the holiday experience doesn’t solve marital problems.
Why March and August Are the Top Times for Divorce
A Peachtree City divorce attorney, or any other divorce attorney for that matter, is likely to wonder why couples tend to pick March and August to file.
The explanation Brines gives is that August falls after the summer holidays, just before children go back to school. But March is several months after the winter holidays, so how does this work? Brines suggests that finances might be an issue, along with the need to find an attorney, and simply get the courage to file. It has been found that longer days in spring, as well as increased activity, might motivate people to act later rather than earlier. This is also the time that suicides tend to peak, she says.
Nevertheless, the March/August pattern was so strong, the researchers decided to analyze the timing of other family-related court actions, including guardianship filings, versus other more general claims. They found that the timing of guardianship filings and divorce filings was very similar, although during the recession the divorce-filing pattern was disrupted, and overall more volatile. However, they did not consider this minor shift to be significant statistically. In comparison, there was absolutely no pattern relating to property claims.
Interestingly, the same pattern for divorce filings was evident in the small, rural county of Lincoln where couples can end marriage by mail – without a court appearance. Brines and Serafini had initially thought filings would be done more quickly after holiday periods, given the quicker, simpler system. The explanation given by Brines was that whatever the process, filing for divorce is clearly a big step… and it usually takes time for people to take the step.
Additionally, Arizona, Florida, Minnesota, and Ohio were also chosen for the research study because they have divorce laws similar to those in Washington State. However, their demographics and economic conditions are different. For instance, Ohio employment rates were higher than normal during the recession, and Arizona and Florida were two of the US states to be hardest hit by the country’s real estate demise. Yet their seasonal pattern of March and August divorce filings was very similar to the seasonal pattern that emerged in Washington.
Read more about the original research and findings in a washington.edu post here.
Divorce in Georgia
If you are considering divorce at any time of the year you need a Peachtree City divorce attorney who understands and will make the process as painless as possible. Our specialist divorce attorneys are available before, during, and after the holidays. Call us to make an appointment.