Reprint from 2015
There is a popular adage that January has the highest rate of divorce filings. There is likely some truth to this, though I’m not confident the statistics necessarily demonstrate this reality. Anecdotally, there have been years in my practice where this certainly appears to be the case. I’m not confident that this is particular to divorce, mind you; as I believe many things – both business and personal – tend to be put off until the holiday season is over. Therefore, it’s important not to blow this out of proportion.
A New Year brings the promise of a fresh start and new beginnings, so it’s understandable why people attempt to correlate this to an otherwise anecdotal trend. Whether a marriage is being tested or not, there is a tendency to push off major decisions until the madness of the holiday season is in the rear view mirror. Fewer big purchases are made during December in favor of a greater amount of small purchases. Business meetings tend to end with, “let’s catch up after the holidays.” And then there’s the school calendar to contend with.
Perhaps there is “pent up demand,” in the field of divorce that makes the thought of starting over in January appealing. I think it’s fair to say the number of divorce inquiries on search engines increases and the phone does seem to ring more often. If you’re reading this blog, you’re likely having thoughts along these lines. If so, I would caution you that making life-changing decisions during the holidays only to act on them as though they are New Year’s Resolutions is slightly misguided. The holidays are stressful under the most normal of circumstances. (And the holidays on Long Island are enough to make anyone temporarily insane.)
I’m not some kind of divorce lawyer martyr—I’m certainly willing and able to counsel anyone who feels that divorce is the next step. What I’m suggesting is that you let yourself off the hook during the holidays and try to enjoy them for what they are. If your relationship is failing and divorce is desired and likely, the process will take its natural course. Making this kind of decision during an already stressful season creates unnecessary angst and can cloud your judgment.
My wish for you is to enjoy the holidays as best you can. Think hard about the New Year resolutions that you can control and make happen. Making the step to get divorced is one of the most difficult decisions you will ever make, and it’s quite possible that it’s one of the best, most healthy decisions you will make. If your mind is clear and you’re moving forward toward your personal goals, you’ll be in a better position to evaluate your options.
Here’s to a happy, healthy and productive New Year.