When do most people file for divorce?

By Daniel H. Moss, Attorney

If you’re contemplating divorce, one of the decisions that can cause a lot of stress is when to file. Do you file as soon as you’ve made the decision or wait until the “right” time? If you decide to wait, when is the right time?

For some, family events, promotions or other external events might be the deciding factor on when to file for divorce, but the majority of divorces are filed in January.

Why January?

Many factors can be indicators for why January has the highest rate of divorce filings. Some of the main reasons include the following:

  • The onset of a new year brings hope for the future. The promise of a new year and a new life often go hand in hand. People tend to act on their opportunities in January, which might include moving from a failing marriage to the hope of a brighter future.
  • January is just after the holidays. People with children may want to keep the holidays happy and normal for the kids. For some, adding divorce to the already high levels of stress during the holidays can be too much to bear. Some may also be holding out hope that the holidays will bring some magic back to their marriage, using the holidays as a last attempt at reconciliation.
  • Marital affairs tend to go up over the holidays. People already in a strained marriage may feel more alone and have more opportunities to interact with others at holiday gatherings and events. This can obviously signal the end of a shaky marriage and result in filing for divorce in January.
  • Financial reasons may also be a factor why the divorce rate goes up in January. The tax year has ended, allowing for the couple to file jointly for the previous year before parting ways.

While January is statistically the busiest month for divorce filings, many people opt to file in October or November to avoid creating an uncomfortable holiday season of pretending things are fine when they’re not. For some individuals, the decision to spend the holidays apart from their spouses can feel less lonely than spending the holidays together physically, but not emotionally. Filing before the holidays can be the emotional equivalent of ripping off the bandage quickly to get through the pain and begin healing.

If you are planning to file for divorce, timing will play a big role in your decision, but there are still many things to take into consideration and to do prior to filing. My free report, 8 Steps to Take Before Filing for Divorce, walks you through the process of preparing for, or possibly even avoiding, divorce. I strongly recommend reading through it to ensure that you’re prepared before making this life-altering decision.

If you have questions or are looking for advice about your specific situation, please contact me directly at 248.855.5656 or [email protected].