Ask Divorce Lawyers in Fairfax, Va. when they’re usually the busiest.  Most will give you the same answer:  January.

Lawyers throughout the United States will answer similarly, and there’s data to back up this perceived New Year’s surge. For instance, a recent study indicates internet searches for “divorce” and connected terms, such as “family law attorney” and “child support,” increase about fifty percent from December to January.

Why?

Not As Hard on Children.  Initiating a divorce after New Year’s Day avoids ruining a kid’s Thanksgiving and Christmas or Hanukkah. No kid will be thankful to hear that mommy and daddy are splitting up or will put a request in his letter to Santa that mommy and daddy separate.  Also, this sort of timing may have future repercussions, as a difficult event that happens around a holiday can wind up being associated with that holiday forever.

Not as Hard on the Spouses.  People tend to have full calendars during the holidays. They have office parties, parties hosted by friends, family get-togethers, and school concerts and plays to attend, not to mention shopping for and wrapping presents, cooking, baking, getting and decorating the Christmas tree, lighting the Menorah, etc., etc.

This can be exhausting even in the best of years. Now, add in the initiation of a divorce, which besides the obvious emotional component, involves gathering and relaying large amounts of information and documentation to your divorce attorney.  Who could handle that?  Not many people.

Nobody Wants To Be A Grinch.  People worry, if they begin a divorce during Thanksgiving or Christmas, that friends and family may think they’re callous. “Did you hear what she said, ‘pass the turkey, and I want a divorce.”  “He asked for a divorce on Christmas, can you believe it?  I’ve never heard of a such a thing.”

That said, many people consult with divorce lawyers in December; they just hold off on taking any concrete action until January. Others will set up consultations for the first work week after New Year’s day.

The Last Straw.  A couple with marital difficulties limps into the holidays, and things get worse, not better.  There are fights and blowups, exacerbated by the stress that can accompany the holidays and by the thought that the holidays should be special, not miserable. One or both spouses decide they’ve had it, and shortly after the New Year, a divorce begins.

New Year’s Resolutions.  As the New Year approaches, it is common for people to  evaluate their lives, realize it all goes by too fast, and conclude they are not happy. Sometimes this sadness is about their marriage, and, when they view their situation as beyond repair, they resolve to pursue a divorce.

It’s All About That Bonus.  Some people wait until January to start a divorce based on the belief that this will clarify that they should receive 50% of their spouse’s year-end or holiday bonus.  In Virginia, this belief is semi rooted in fact. Property received during a marriage by either spouse, but before the spouses separate, is presumed to be marital, but there are reasons it might not be.  Also, most marital property is divided 50/50, but this is not an absolute.

If you’re considering a divorce, as we begin 2017, and you want guidance about Virginia family law and your process options, such as collaborative divorce, uncontested divorce, or mediation, please contact our experienced divorce attorneys and schedule a consultation. We would be happy to talk with you..