In my 20 years as a divorce attorney here in New Jersey, I have learned to recharge my battery in late December. Why you may ask? It is because every January my law firm experiences an immense increase in phone calls, emails and even Facebook messages from folks who are seeking a divorce from their spouse. Only 12 calendar days into the New Year, this phenomenon is happening once again. This prompted me to consider why this happens each and every January. Over the weekend, I researched my hypothesis of, “Out with the old, in with the new,” by conducting Google research and found many supporting facts:
* Throughout the country, January has been nicknamed, “Divorce Month,” by many divorce lawyers;
* The number of divorce filings spike over 33% in January then slowly declines until Valentine’s Day, wherein another spike occurs;
* Match.com sees a 55% increase in new customers in January;
* Utilizing numerous Google tools to collect and analyze data from my firm’s web site and Google in general, search terms related to divorce and child custody here in New
Jersey rise dramatically in December, for evidently obvious reasons.
So, this all begs the question, why does this trend exist? Between what I have experienced as a divorce lawyer here in New Jersey combined with my research on this topic, I postulate that a number of factors come into play:
* First and foremost, if children are involved, most parents do not want to disrupt (or even ruin) their holiday. This is true notwithstanding the fact that in many cases the
couple had already openly discussed the demise of their marriage. When potential
clients with children visit me during November and December, I usually recommend waiting until after the holiday season. I only suggest moving forward immediately if I learn of an extreme situation that must be addressed in an expeditious manner (i.e.,
domestic violence, one spouse refusing to help with household bills causing the
threat of basic utilities being shut off, etc.);
* Second, many folks who visit my law office have been unhappy for a long time.
However, procrastination is often inevitable. A scenario that I have witnessed
many times is when an individual, who is miserable in their marriage, nevertheless
thinks to herself (or himself), “why ruin my summer?” Then summer ends, the kid’s return to school and life becomes very busy again for the parents, both at home and
in their careers. Next thing that happens, before you know it, now the holidays are here and the parent figures that the children should be allowed to experience this wonderful time of year one last time together as a family. Then January hits and
the time has come;
* Third, the holidays are an extremely emotional time and therefore complicated for all
families. Even a happy family faces the stressors generated by the holidays such as many extra errands and obligations that simply must get done one way or the other. Moreover, for most families the holidays are also an expensive time of year,
which only further amplifies anxiety and pressure. However, when a divorce is on the forefront of one’s thoughts, all the holiday preparations are with a heart
weighted down with sorrow. All told, to commence with a divorce would just be too much and then it waits till January;
* Finally, perhaps the most obvious reason. It is New Year Resolution time. Enough said.
So today is January 12, 2014, and my New Jersey family law firm continues to receive emails, phone calls and messages via social media outlets inquiring about divorce. Once we have our consultation, there is basic advice that my experienced associate attorneys and I always provide. Examples include how to best protect your children from the divorce process. Many times we are asked, how to break the news to the kids. While this is not always possible (especially in a high-conflict divorce situation) we recommend that two caring parents gently explain to their children that while some things are about to change that they emphasize how much they both love them and that is never going to change.
I also strongly recommend to my new clients that they must immediately, “become an expert as to their finances.” This ranges from making a spreadsheet (with documentation, if possible) of assets and liabilities as well as their monthly budget. Copies of tax returns are required for a divorce and almost always helpful and revealing.
If you or a loved one has made one of their New Year resolutions to be a divorce, please do not hesitate to contact my office so we may guide you through this difficult time of life. Thank you.