Every year, the first working Monday of January has the dubious distinction of being known as “Divorce Day” in the legal field. That’s in recognition of the fact that the new year often sees a steady stream of new divorce filings — many of which start the moment the holidays are over.
Why do people wait until the new year to file for divorce?
There’s no one universal reason for the surge, but researchers, psychologists and divorce attorneys all have some definite ideas about why people wait:
- The emotional significance of the holiday season makes it hard to ask for a divorce. Even in rocky marital relationships, couples often have enough compassion for each other that they don’t want to ruin what is supposed to be a joyful time by initiating a divorce.
- They don’t want the extra pressure from friends and relatives. The holidays tend to put you in close contact with extended family members and distant friends. Showing up to holiday events without your spouse can be uncomfortable at best. Waiting until January avoids that problem.
- They don’t want to create bad holiday memories for the kids. When kids are involved, you have to keep their feelings in mind. A marital split right at the holidays could negatively affect their perception of the season for years to come.
- Some couples hold out hope for a change of heart. When you’re surrounded by images of joy or romance, it’s easy to hope that your marriage will suddenly improve. It’s only when the holiday season remains unhappy and unfulfilling that some couples face reality.
Ultimately, even if you’re hoping for a holiday miracle in your marriage, it’s smart to consult with an attorney right away. Then, you can better understand what’s at stake, what documents you should gather and the steps you should take to make the process easier if you do decide to file for divorce in January.