Is it an urban myth or do divorce proceedings really increase in January?

At the beginning of every year you see the same old stories appearing in the media and declaring unequivocally that January is 'Divorce Month', when more divorces are filed than at any other time of year. But is there actually any truth in it? The short answer, unfortunately, is yes. Research carried out by various law firms has found much evidence to support it.

One found that 1 out of every 5 couples plan to separate following one final Christmas together as a family, whereas all solicitors report a rise in the number of divorce instructions in January compared to the rest of the year's monthly average, often an increase of between 25 and 30%.

What is it about Christmas that spells the end for so many couples?

Many people may be familiar with the strains that Christmas has on your average family. Even if you're the most content family unit and the happiest couple imaginable, it's a rare festive season that doesn't bring with it enormous expectations, resulting in considerably heightened stress and shortened fuses.

The pressure to be happy

The pressure to be happy and to have a wonderful time no matter what's going on in your life and your relationship begins in earnest just after Bonfire Night and continues right through to the end of the year. If you happen to be in a marriage that has been heading south for some time, every single Christmas advert, with its in-built assumption that everyone is deliriously happy and has no problems whatsoever, can feel like a personal attack or yet another reason to end your marriage once and for all.

The pressure to spend money

Worries over money are naturally another huge difficulty for struggling couples. Research suggests that over a quarter of people in the UK feel pressure to spend more than they have at Christmas, with as many as 35% of the population having to borrow money just to be able to afford to buy gifts. With all the extra costs incurred throughout the festive season, it's hardly surprising that financial pressure is another catalyst in the breakdown of marriages at this time of year.

The pressure to spend time together

Add to all that the fact that couples generally get to have more time off work than usual and find themselves spending even more time with one another than they're used to. When a couple is struggling, this extra time - combined with all the other pressures - can be the final straw.

New year, new life

One final reason that so many people decide to call it a day in January is that this is the time of year that traditionally, change is made. So, it follows that if someone is out of shape, in January they join a gym, and if someone is really unhappy in their relationship, in January they get a divorce. It may sound glib but this actually happens.

If you happen to be in this very sad position, give us a call at New Leaf Solicitors, where we do everything we can to make your separation as painless as possible for all concerned.