“Divorce Month” Fact or Fiction: Do More Couples Split in January? was a recent article that I came across in the New York Times. The article discusses the belief that January is the busiest month of the year for divorce filings. The article’s information is consistent with my experiences after practicing family law for many years. Specifically, my office receives many phone calls in January for initial consultations. The article points out that people search “divorce” more often on Google in late December and early January. Secondly, the article cites a study that divorce filings peak in March and August, following the winter and summer holidays. I see this trend as well. Lastly, the article mentions that many of decisions about divorce depend on state law. I also find this to be true.
January is a symbol of new beginnings, reflecting on endings and rising expectations that we will stay true to our resolutions. For some, January represents a new chapter in their relationships, including that with their spouse. Therefore, those who have been contemplating a divorce, may perceive January as the best time to move forward. Typically, the trend during the months of October through December show a lull in divorce filings. This is likely due to the distraction of the holidays over these months. They also make a conscious effort to get through the holidays with the least resistance between spouses. As distancing couples mentally prepare for one last holiday together, I tend to experience less “activity” at year-end.
While January does see an increase in inquiries regarding divorce and is probably the busiest month of the year for initial consultations, September is a close second. Perhaps this trend is similar in rationale, such that many couples attempt to conclude the summer with the least amount of disruption to their schedules or their children’s schedules.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when pursuing a divorce is seeking information about the divorce process, or the likely outcome of their own divorce, by comparison to the experience of other family members, friends, or even anonymous online sources. As family lawyers, it is often difficult to undue this preliminary “research.” Each divorce is different from the outcome of that of a friend, and it becomes a challenge to impress this upon someone who has taken advice from others who are not necessarily qualified to give it. This tends to result in a skewed perception of how a divorce matter will proceed and could result in unrealistic expectations. It is strongly recommended that if you are contemplating divorce, or have questions regarding separation, that you contact a specialized divorce professional to discuss these matters.
For those considering a divorce, my advice would be to schedule a consultation with an attorney who specializes in family law. Also, begin working on compiling your financial records or documents that may be important to the outcome of your matter. It may be recommended that you work with other professionals to understand the short-term and long-term effects of divorce. These other professionals may include therapists or financial experts. Be prepared for a marathon, and not a sprint. Remain realistic in your expectations, and do not succumb to illusions of justice, retribution, or spite. It will only exhaust and emotionally strain you, and stunt progress. Lastly, it is important to remember principles of fairness, equity and compromise throughout the process. As you close one chapter, begin the next with peace and harmony.
In conclusion, I would not call January “Divorce Month” but I would call it a busy month for initial consultations. Please contact me if you have any family law questions.
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