January is “Divorce Month” – Myth or Matrimonial Mayhem?

There is widespread belief among laypeople and attorneys that the rate of divorce filings increases notably every January. Why is this, and is it true?

With endless sentiments about family and the holidays – such as “The greatest legacy we can leave our children is happy memories,” – it’s no wonder couples feel pressured to pack away thoughts of their failing marriage in November and December. As the holidays wind down and the new year approaches, it is equally not surprising that topping the list of self-care resolutions is a decision to divorce.

Logically speaking, the number of filings should rise in January. There are two schools of thought on this, one based on research and one based on perception.

A 2016 study from the University of Washington was conducted to see if there was any statistical evidence to back up the anecdotes. Researchers examined divorce filings from 2001 to 2015 in the state of Washington and determined that filings did indeed increase in January, compared to December. Ohio, Minnesota, Florida and Arizona were also found to exhibit similar patterns.[1]

Conversely, David K. Wilkinson, a founding partner of the Wilkinson and Finkbeiner law firm in San Diego, said the perceived rise in divorce filings in January could be related to slower times in November and December. “In my mind, it’s natural that January sort of just picks back up,” Mr. Wilkinson said.[2]

What does your family law practice typically experience in January? Do you have more divorce filings than other months of the year?

My 18 years of litigation experience and six years of exclusive divorce mediation make me uniquely qualified to mediate for you and your clients.

Menu