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Why is January called ‘Divorce Month?’

On Behalf of | Dec 29, 2023 | Divorce |

January often sees a surge in divorce filings, a trend that’s increased over the past several decades. However, several factors influence Pennsylvania spouses’ decision to end their marriages. The recent pandemic also affected when and why couples get divorced. The trend for January divorces was first tracked in the 1970s, but other months, notably March and September, often see elevated divorce filings.

Reasons couples file after the beginning of the year

Several emotional and practical rationales exist for waiting until the first of the year to file for a divorce. Here are a few:

  • Couples do not want their divorce proceedings to coincide with the holiday season, disrupting their children’s and families’ lives.
  • New Year’s is a time for resolutions, and many people see January as a chance for a fresh start.
  • Economic benefits may exist, such as bonuses paid out at the end of the year, health insurance benefits and tax incentives for filing as a married couple for the previous year.

While divorce filings typically diminish considerably from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, Google Trends searches for divorce begin picking up steam in early January, according to a report from The New York Times.

Other divorce trends

The divorce and marriage rates have declined significantly in the past 20 years. In 2000, just under 1 million divorces and annulments were reported. In 2021, 690,000 people ended their marriages, dropping the divorce rate from 4.0 to 2.5 per 100,000 people. The marriage rate also seriously dipped during that period. But things that have stayed the same are the reasons for divorce. According to a National Library of Medicine survey, the top three given are:

  • Arguments and heightened conflict: 58%
  • Getting married too soon: 45%
  • Financial problems: 38%

The study also said that for couples who try to make challenging relationships work, the final straw is often domestic violence, substance abuse or infidelity. Relationship experts say that January and March typically see an increase in divorces for those who tried to weather the holiday season. August and September also see more filings as it comes at the end of summer break for children.