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The seasonality of divorce

The beginning of a new year sparks plans for new diets, exercise routines and self-care regimens. It also triggers a wave of divorce.

There are certain predictors that can determine who is most likely to divorce, and there are similar trends that may predict when they're going to do it. According to a 2016 study, the first wave of 2018 divorces is coming soon.

Associate sociology professor Julie Brines and doctoral candidate Brian Serafini at the University of Washington put together what is believed to be the first quantitative evidence of a seasonal, biannual pattern of divorce filings. Their findings determined consistent peaks in divorce filings in March and August.

Holidays drive divorce

Why the spike during these two months? Brines and Serafini believe their research suggests the filings are driven by the family calendar and follow the winter and summer holidays. Those times are typically sacred for families, and many couples try to give it "one last shot" over the holidays or a family vacation. "If we just get through Christmas or have a nice road trip this summer, maybe things will get better and we can start fresh."

Unfortunately, what the data suggests is that this isn't the result, which is not entirely surprising. The holidays can be incredibly stressful for any couple, but when the pressure is put on to save a relationship at the same time, it becomes even more difficult. The same goes for planning a vacation with little ones.

But why March?

August makes sense for an increase of divorce filings: Most family vacations will be in June or July, so filings increase in August as summer plans are winding down and before kids go back to school. But March is months after the winter holidays. Why does the winter spike occur so much later?

Brines suggests this is because it takes time for couples to get finances in order, find an attorney or simply have the courage to go through with the divorce.

If you are entering the new year and thinking about divorce, know that you are not alone - especially based on the data. You can still maintain your family's well-being and produce a positive outcome for both parties. 

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