If you suspect that divorce filings might be more likely at certain times of the year, you are right. A recent University of Washington analysis showed that filings spiked not once, but twice, each year, leading some in the media to proclaim that there is a “season” for divorce.
The researchers reviewed 15 years of divorce filings in nearly all counties in Washington state, then compared what they found with filings in four other U.S. states.
The results were consistent across all locations examined: filings jumped in March and August.
The researchers noted that those filing for divorce seemed to avoid three times of year:
- Valentine’s Day;
- summer vacations; and
- the winter holidays.
They speculated a few potential reasons for the timing of the filings:
- a concern that”[w]inter and summer holidays are culturally sacred times for families,” when it might be “taboo” to announce intentions to divorce;
- the stress created by winter and summer holidays, which might lead people to “decide their differences are irreconcilable right after a big trip”; and
- dashed expectations for family time or positive expectations during the holidays.
The authors also thought that the beginning of the school year might press unhappy spouses into action.
Interestingly, the biannual pattern held true even when the researchers controlled for “other seasonal factors such as unemployment and the housing market.”
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