Solicitors state that January and February are the peak times for filing a divorce

The first Monday in January is the busiest day of the year for legal professionals who deal with divorces. The numbers of couples breaking up and filing for divorce stay at a high over January and February. We will look at some of the potential reasons and how we might help?

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that there were 106,959 divorces of opposite-sex couples in 2016, an increase of 5.8% compared with 2015. There were 112 divorces of same-sex couples in 2016; of these 78% were among female couples. And in 2016, there were 8.9 divorces of opposite-sex couples per 1,000 married men and women aged 16 and over (divorce rates), an increase of 4.7% since 2015; however, divorce rates in 2016 are over 20% lower than the recent peak in the divorce rate in 2003 and 2004.

The divorce rate for opposite-sex couples was highest among men aged 45 to 49 and women in their thirties (ages 30 to 39). The majority of divorces of opposite-sex couples in 2016 where a decree absolute was granted, were petitioned by the wife (61%). The most common grounds for divorce was unreasonable behaviour, with 36% of all husbands and 51% of all wives petitioning for divorce on these grounds. Unreasonable behaviour has consistently been the most common ground for wives petitioning for divorce since the late 1970s; previous to this, the ground was named “cruelty”. Unreasonable behaviour has only been the most common ground for husbands petitioning since 2006; in the 1980s and 1990s adultery was generally the most common ground for husbands petitioning, while between 1999 and 2005 it was separation (two years and consent).

What percentage of marriages end in divorce?

The ONS estimate that about 42% of marriages end in divorce. Around half of these divorces are expected to occur in the first 10 years of marriage.

What could be the reasons for these “peak times” in January and February?

There is no concrete research in revealing these reasons but we can assume that Christmas may play a major part in this. North East Counselling Services own data always shows an increase in individuals and couples seeking support in January and February and the reasons for seeking help range from having to face debts from the Christmas period, breakdown in communications with family members, family deaths an generally individuals feeling stressed or with the anxiety of facing another year.

Christmas for many is a great time for family and friends but it can have a significant “negative” impact on others. Family breakdown is common and so many may turn to legal professionals to make a big change. Things haven’t been working out for a while and the Christmas break exposes these issues. Christmas also helps raise other issues with individuals such as over-eating, drinking too much or even shopping too much. We recognise Christmas as a time of indulgence but can this get out of control. January and February often bring a reality check too many, when the credit card bills are opened and a New Year ahead doesn’t seem too promising.

The weather may play a part in this, with dark mornings and nights this can affect our mood and our outlook. In all the winter and Christmas can become a stressful and depressing time for many and is increased in the months of January and February.

Can counselling help?

As stated we also have some of our busiest months for both individuals and couples in January and February. We can help both individuals and couples with a range of support to get you back on track. Counselling is a safe environment for you to talk and get to the “real issues” that may trigger you to feel depressed or have anxiety. “Live your life, don’t just exist” get help and enjoy your life. We have an excellent track record of helping people just like you. Get in touch if you need help.

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