Holidays: Season of Divorce?

By: Henry Gornbein
Last Update: October 29, 2016

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Dinner was cooking and sweet smells filled the air. She had such high hopes that her husband soon would be there. Suddenly there was a racket as that louse came home drunk. Falling and slurring, he smelled like a skunk. His clothes were disheveled. He had lipstick on his collar. Tears came to her eyes and they started to holler.

Unfortunately, this holiday scene has played out before and is often the final straw in a relationship.

Holidays are supposed to be a time for family, a time of joy and a time for reflection. Sadly, they are often a time when people are disappointed. The Currier & Ives perfect Thanksgiving, Chanukah or Christmas is not a reality. Family gatherings are often difficult. You do not pick your relatives and many people can’t stand their in-laws. Holidays are also a time when people make mistakes. What about one drink too many at that holiday office party? An indiscretion with another man or woman can be problematic. A word that should not be said, a careless e-mail or text message – the list is endless. With social media, it is so much easier to cross that line than it was a few years ago.

I have many clients who come to me during the holiday season with expectations that things in their marriage will be better if they can just get through the holidays. However, January is the busiest month for new divorces. There are many reasons for this, including the fact that people have unrealistic expectations about the holidays.

Sometimes, the year-end and the beginning of a New Year are also thought of as a time for change and new beginnings. That change may be to not have another year with a husband or wife, and to begin again by ending a marriage or relationship. The reasons for divorce are endless, but the holiday season often brings matters to a head with the result that January of each year becomes divorce season.

These are some of my thoughts. What are yours?


Henry S. Gornbein is a partner with the law firm of Lippitt O’Keefe Gornbein PLLC in Birmingham, Michigan.


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