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Divorce: The Fifth Season

Spring.  Summer.  Fall.  Winter.  Divorce?  Who knew there was a fifth season?[1]  While there is never a “good” time for a divorce or separation, there are certainly times during the year when family law attorneys receive more phone calls.  If you were to venture a guess, what time of the year do you think this occurs?

Here is a small hint:  it is the time of year families traditionally gather for the holidays.  Regardless of whether your family celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, the months of November, December, and January can be stressful.  Throw alcohol, increased spending, and already strained relationships into the mix, and it is somewhat of a perfect storm.

According to many of my colleagues (and my personal observation), December and January are the most popular months for potential clients to call with questions regarding separation or divorce.  There are many theories floating around the legal community as to why.  First, many struggling families will choose to have one last holiday season together.  Oftentimes this is due to families having young children, not wishing to taint their holiday memories.  Second, individuals already contemplating separation or divorce may wait to act as part of a New Year’s resolution.  Third, the financial strain of the holiday may bring up larger financial issues within families.  Obviously, this short list is not all-inclusive, but it does address some of the main reasons why so many people decide to separate or divorce during November, December, and January.  Regardless of the reasoning behind the influx of phone calls, most family law attorneys will agree that the “fifth season” (divorce) has arrived.

Though family law attorneys seem to get more phone calls in November, December, and January, the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics tends to show a different trend.[2]  In 2016, the months of April, May, and June had the highest recorded number of divorces.  In contrast, the months of November, December, and January had the least.  Though the Center for Health Statistics does not say for certain, one may presume that the numbers only include finalized divorces.  It is not surprising that the number of finalized divorces would be lower in November, December, and January.  There are more court holidays during this time period, and fewer days to presumably finalize a divorce.  These statistics do not take into account those that enter into separation agreements.

Since the fifth season is upon us, I will be doing a series of blog posts about different aspects of separation and divorce.  The first blog in the series will address separation agreements.  If there are any particular topics that pique your interest, please let me know!

[1] Kudos to my husband’s cousin Charlotte, who coined this title for this blog post.  She is twelve years old, and wise beyond her years!

[2] 2016 North Carolina Marriage and Divorce Rates by County