As one seasons turns into the next, changes are rampant. Not just with the weather but also in people’s lives. Children may be going back to school from break, a parent back to work, or even a decision to make a new year’s resolution finally happen. Could these changes also coincide with divorce? A recent study conducted by the University of Washington concluded that there is an increase in the filings for divorce in the spring and fall.

Here, the sociologists analyzed the timing of divorce filings in Washington state over a 14-year period, from 2001 to 2015. The study showed that, over the course of a calendar year, filings for divorce increase in both August and March. Since both of these periods follow the summer and winter holiday season, the researchers concluded that the timing of divorce filings appears to be times to a “domestic ritual” calendar of societal and family behavior. But why?

The researchers believe that these spikes are mainly explained by the cultural view that family holiday time in the winter and summer season is to be enjoyed. Therefore, it would be unthinkable to disrupt this special time with a divorce filing, even to the point of “taboo.” The researchers also noted that these holiday periods often bring about hopeful expectations that a downward relationship can be repaired through a happy vacation or even a positive holiday experience. A parent may think, “We will have a happy Christmas together as a family or we will take the kids on a vacation to the lake and things will get better.”

One researcher explained that “[p]eople tend to face the holidays with rising expectations, despite what disappointments they might have had in years past.  They represent periods in the year when there’s the anticipation or the opportunity for a new beginning, a new start, something different, a transition into a new period of life.  It’s like an optimistic cycle, in a sense.” It follows, then, that if a holiday experience does not meet your hopeful expectations, you may be disappointed enough to file for divorce. It is more than likely that a holiday will not go as planned. Holidays can be emotionally charged with the stress of ensuring it goes well and added family members involved. Therefore, the researchers believe that the consistent pattern in filings reflects the disillusionment unhappy spouses feel when the holidays do not live up to their heavy expectations.

The researchers not only looked at divorce filings but also other court proceedings involving families, such as guardianship filings and custody disputes. The findings only supported the researcher’s previous conclusions concerning the season and filing a domestic relations case. To ensure that these findings were not secluded just to Washington, the researchers also looked at states from Arizona, Florida, Ohio and Minnesota. Again, the findings were supported.  

If you are contemplating divorce, please contact the attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum. Our dedicated team will discuss this process with you and the specifics of your case. We will ensure that your needs are met and your rights are protected.