In many legal circles, January is known as “Divorce Month” as the New Year traditionally brings a surge in the number of divorces filed.
This trend is nothing new. Recent research even suggests the pattern dates back to Medieval times. Frederki Pedersen, a senior lecturer in history at the University of Aberdeen, recently wrote in Science 2.0 that in the 14th century, a third of the litigation heard by the church court in York was initiated in January.
The reasons for that Medieval uptick appears to have been a combination of the church year, which was traditionally busy in December, and the demands of the farming year, which was especially laborious during the fall before running into the Christmas season.
Nowadays, there are still a myriad of factors that contribute to the rise of January divorces. Here are four reasons January is “Divorce Month.”
Just making it through the holidays
January divorces are especially common for families with children. That might be because Mom and Dad were holding off on splitting so they could spend one last holiday season together as a family.
Even marriages that end in divorce aren’t usually all bad all the time. The thought of scrapping Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year family traditions can be depressing, and there’s nothing wrong with spending the holidays together one last time, even if it’s delaying the inevitable.
This can also be a mature decision for families with children. The holidays should be happy and joyful for kids and a lot of couples will delay divorce for the sake of keeping it that way.
On the other hand, the holidays are often the most stressful time of the year for many families. For a couple already on shaky ground, that added pressure can lead to strained emotions, which explode after a busy holiday season.
New Year, new beginnings
Although there is never a perfect time to get a divorce, the New Year is symbolically a time to start over with a clean slate and new resolutions.
Many people use the end of the year to reflect on their lives and consider what they can do differently to bring them more happiness. For a couple that is unhappy and struggling to save their marriage, this might seem like the perfect time to call it quits on their marriage and start from scratch.
Tax and financial reasons
There are also practical reasons for waiting until the calendar changes to file for divorce.
Usually, as long as you’re married for at least one day in a year, you can file as married on your taxes and collect the benefits.
January is also a time where many people receive bonus money, which can sometimes be claimed as an asset by a spouse.