The Post-Christmas Divorce Epidemic

A couple wearing jackets outside in the snow and walking away from each other.

It’s January, so it’s time to talk about the D word: divorce. Sad as it sounds, January has been dubbed the “divorce month” because legal professionals claim that this is when they get the majority of their divorce filings. Most of these happen during the first half, which is why the first Monday in January is delegated as “National Divorce Day.” Aside from gossip from legal circles, January (and December) is also known for having increased Google searches for “divorce parties,” which have been trending for several years.

Why Is January a Popular Month to File for Divorce?

A woman looking out of the window with her husband hugging her and looking at her face.

There are many reasons why January may seem suitable for initiating a divorce. In most cases, the couple has been planning it long before January. And doing it during or prior to the holidays in December feels inappropriate, especially if there are children involved. If the couple has a long history together, it might also be a sentimental choice; they may want to spend one last holiday season together before splitting up. Some may also hold on to the moment as one last chance to see if things change.

January may also be the time many file for divorce because the holidays leading up the to the start of a new year add a lot of extra stress, especially if the marriage is already on the rocks. Financial difficulties or even spending too much time together can push an unstable relationship over the edge. Although it’s meant to be a festive period, the holidays tend to highlight any existing problems quite well.

And, of course, a new year means a new start. Initiating a divorce may be the result of starting over in any realm of person’s life. Filing for a divorce at the start of the year may also be considered smart for some in terms of finances since the couple can take maximum advantage of the tax breaks for the previous year.

All in all, January is essentially a month of transition, which is why it’s easier for people to make big changes in their lives now versus in other months. (It shouldn’t be surprising that September—the end of summer holidays and the start of the school year—is another popular month of divorces.)

Common Signs Someone Is Considering a Divorce

If your marriage is on the rocks, the end of the year is the time to keep an eye out for signs of potential incoming bad news. If you notice any of the following signs, it might be wise to start a conversation and seek mediation.

Changes in Spending

If one person starts to spend excessively—or do the opposite—it’s a red flag. A person may stop paying attention to the family budget because they know they’ll be leaving anyway and want to take advantage of the situation. It may also be a sign of depression, related or unrelated to the relationship. A person may also start being frugal because they’re already mentally adjusting for their upcoming lifestyle. Or, they are using a less-privileged lifestyle as an excuse to call it quits.

Cutting Communication

A couple sitting apart in a white bedroom in the middle of a fight.

Sudden changes in one’s communication style are never a good sign. Any time a partner stops talking to you, there’s usually a reason for it. They can be mentally creating distance. It’s also a sign to have a talk if a person suddenly stops complaining about things when they’re normally a nag or in reverse, starts picking on every little thing.

Suggesting Kids

Perhaps it’s due to poor old-fashioned advice, but some people think that having a baby together will solve everything wrong in a marriage. When a partner suggests expanding the family during a difficult period, it might be their way of trying to fix something broken. However, it may also just be a sign of a personal psychological crisis. Before you jump on that bandwagon, make sure to discuss the reasons behind it.

Makeovers

If your partner suddenly starts getting on their A-game physically, you might think the reason is infidelity. By itself, a personal change for the better should not be seen as a warning sign, unless it’s accompanied by other alterations in habits. And if it happens at the start of a new year, who says it’s not a healthy resolution?

Expecting a Divorce?

It’s important not to jump to conclusions about something as serious as divorce, especially right after the holidays. Having said that, it’s never a bad idea to check in with your partner that everything in your marriage is as it should be. And if you’re having thoughts of divorce yourself, make sure to think things through before you make your move. Assess the situation carefully and decide whether the marriage is worth salvaging. Unless you’re in a high-conflict or toxic relationship, such a serious step should not be made with a quick conversation.

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