March can be a month of transitioning. Winter ends and Spring officially beings. However, for many families, March can bring about more changes than just the season.
A University of Washington study found that March is one of two biannual periods in which divorces spike. The second spike being in August – after family vacations and before the start of a new school year.
Researchers suggest that March is a popular month to file for divorce because the fall and winter holidays are over. Requesting a divorce during the holidays can be seen as taboo because holidays are considered sacred and family time.
For some couples, the holidays can be stressful and emotionally charged, and raise or exacerbate existing tension. Divorce filings begin to increase in January once the holidays are over. However, instead of seeing a huge surge in January – immediately after the holidays – mdash the study shows that the majority of people choose to wait until March.
“That leads me to think that it takes some time emotionally for people to take this step,” said Julie Brines, Associate sociology professor and author of the study. “Filing for divorce, whether you do it by mail or appear in court, is a big step.”
Brines suggests a number of reasons why more couples file in March than in January:
- March gives couples a chance to get their finances in order. Tax season forces Americans to take a close look at their financial situation.
- Finding the right divorce lawyer takes time.
- Daylight savings time begins in March. Experts have said the longer days and increased activity elevates mood enough to motivate people to act.
The study was limited to Washington counties, but lawyers throughout the United States have seen similar trends. Philadelphia Divorce Lawyer Thomas Petrelli, Jr. told Metro that his family law firm keeps its own records regarding divorce trends. They experience a spike in filings in March, but their next biannual rush usually comes during the second week of September and lasts thru Thanksgiving. This is just slightly off from the Washington study’s August spike.
The Chicago Tribune reported that many firms receive a flood of calls the Monday after Christmas break. Attorneys on the other side of Atlantic reported a similar situation. One United Kingdom firm told the tribune that they typically receive double the number of inquiries during the first few days of the new year- sometimes triple the amount.
Portland attorney Lewis Landerholm told PA Law Blogs that his firm experiences similar results with a spike in calls about divorce after Valentine’s Day.
Carole Lieberman, a Beverly Hills psychiatrist and relationship expert suggests it’s common for couples to decide to resolve a marriage this particular time of year. She told The Chicago Tribune “People take stock of their life at the new year, and it’s tempting to make one of their New Year’s resolutions include getting rid of their spouse, if they have been miserable in their marriage.”
To learn more about the divorce process or how to get started, visit Divorce Done Right.