While many of us are experiencing the post-holiday Monday blues, family lawyers are getting ready for a very busy month – and it begins today. Some divorce professionals even call the first weekday after the holidays “Divorce Monday.”
It’s common for married couples, especially those with children, to wait until after the holidays to divorce. Not wanting to spoil the magic of Christmas or be alone on New Year’s Eve, couples wait until the first working Monday after the holidays to make a call to a family lawyer’s office. The number of couples filing for divorce increases throughout the month, giving January a bad rep for being known as one of the busiest months for new divorces.
According to a poll of 2,000 spouses by U.K. legal firm Irwin Mitchell, one in five married couples consider separating from their spouses after the December 31. The firm reported that business increases by at least 25% during the month of January compared with an average month.
“Every year we see a marked rise in enquiries and instructions in January from people who have decided that the time is right to separate from their partner,” Alison Hawes, a family lawyer with the firm, told The Mirror newspaper.
Aside from staying together for the kids during Christmas, there are many other reasons couples wait until the New Year to file for divorce. “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,” says Henry S. Gornbein, a partner with the Michigan-based law firm of Lippitt O’Keefe Gornbein. “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.”
Some people in rocky marriages may have hoped that the holiday season would bring them closer to their spouse – only to be left feeling more distant, angry, and disappointed by their spouse’s actions (or in some cases, lack of action). Hopes and beliefs that Christmas and New Year’s should be “magical” and romantic may create unrealistic expectations for spouses in an unhappy marriage. They compare themselves to other couples, friends, and family, and end up feeling even more upset at the lack of intimacy and pleasure in each other’s company. One more disappointment can be the last straw, so they make “Get a divorce” a key New Year’s resolution.
“Sometimes, the year-end and the beginning of a New Year are also thought of as a time for change and new beginnings,” notes Gornbein. “That change may be to not have another year with a husband or wife, and to begin again by ending a marriage or relationship.”
Ironically, Divorce Monday comes a day after the busiest day of the year for online dating sites.