‘TIS THE SEASON FOR DIVORCE: INCREASED DIVORCE RATES AFTER THE HOLIDAY SEASON
For many people, the holiday season is associated with family, togetherness, and joy. At least, that is what the holidays are marketed as. Near the Christmas and New Year holidays, many people decide to take big vacations with their families and significant others. However, this is not necessarily a universal understanding.
THE POSSIBLE CONNECTION BETWEEN DIVORCE AND THE HOLIDAYS
One of the most searched for terms on the internet on New Year’s Day is “divorce.” So, if the holidays were meant to foster family unity, why do so many people start the New Year off researching about divorce?
For insight into this phenomenon, consider the search and sales volume for the term “pizza” on New Year’s Eve. People in the pizza delivery business attribute the popularity of pizza searches and orders to New Year’s Eve parties, which are generally larger than Christmas celebrations, which are traditionally family-focused. Also, New Year’s Eve is considered to be a secular holiday with less cuisine-centered traditions
One theory as to why “divorce” is such a popular search term on New Year’s Day—or why so many divorces are filed early in the year—is that holiday vacations sometimes bring out conflict between spouses. For example, if a couple goes on a holiday vacation and gets into disagreements, they might be convinced that their differences are irreconcilable.
Historically, it was harder for a couple to get a divorce unless they were motivated by extreme circumstances. Today, most states—including Ohio—recognize a divorce ground based on the personal differences and incompatibility of the spouses.
Under Ohio’s Revised Code § 3105.01, a court will grant a divorce on the following grounds:
- Extreme cruelty
- Fraudulent contract
- Gross neglect of duties
- Habitual drunkenness
- Getting divorced in another state
- Living separate and apart without cohabitation
An alternative explanation involves conflicts that might arise in gatherings with extended family members. If there is a conflict between someone and their in-laws, the holidays might not only bring out the conflict but also make such a conflict seem like an insurmountable difference between spouses.
THE MORNING AFTER LAST YEAR
Another possibility is that New Year’s Eve celebrations can involve a lot of drinking, which lowers a person’s inhibitions and causes people to act out of character. In some cases, drinking too much can cause couples to get into fights where people say things they ordinarily would not say to their significant others. In other cases, heavy drinking might cause one to act on their feelings of romantic infatuation with someone other than their spouse.
In these cases, divorce might be the product of brash uncharacteristic thinking. In general, state laws try to prevent people from getting a divorce without taking the time to consider the consequences. Many states, including Ohio, have “cooling-off periods” that allow the couple to really think about whether divorce is the solution for them.
Rule 75(K) of Ohio’s Rules of Civil Procedure provides for such a cooling-off period:
“No action for divorce, annulment, or legal separation may be heard and decided until the expiration of forty-two days after the service of process or twenty-eight days after the last publication of notice of the complaint, and no action for divorce, annulment, or legal separation shall be heard and decided earlier than twenty-eight days after the service of a counterclaim, which under this rule may be designated a cross-complaint, unless the plaintiff files a written waiver of the twenty-eight day period.”
STRATEGIC DIVORCE FOR TAX PURPOSES
One of the most common reasons people get divorce involves finances. Although marriage provides certain tax benefits for people, in some cases being single or getting a divorce makes more financial sense.
The idea of getting divorced to take advantage of a legal benefit is known as “strategic divorce.” For example, if one spouse has a serious medical condition that requires expensive treatment such as nursing home care, being married might jeopardize their eligibility for Medicaid. Or, parents might be motivated to get a divorce to help a child qualify for financial aid.
Sometimes, the tax advantages of getting divorced depend on one’s status according to their marital status at the beginning of the fiscal year. By filing for divorce on or after January 1st of the year, a couple can take advantage of those financial or legal benefits.
DEALING WITH HOLIDAY CONFLICT
In many cases, getting a divorce is the logical consequence of circumstances. If the underlying cause of the irreconcilable conflict between spouses was merely unaddressed by the couple, the holidays might bring this issue to light. However, in some cases, a couple may not have thought about divorce until a major fight during the holidays.
In either case, communication is one of the most effective tools to help people deal with conflict. Ignoring the problem and leaving it unaddressed can only exacerbate the issue between the couple. Couples therapy is a good way to deal with problems that may be difficult for a couple to confront, especially during a time where the rest of society is telling you to cherish your family.
However, if the marriage is a lost cause, it is still a good idea to minimize fights between you and your spouse, especially when children are involved. In such cases, it is better to prepare for your divorce before the holiday season. Getting a divorce in the middle of the holidays might cause minor children to associate it with conflict, leading to emotional issues as they mature.
CONTACT WEIS LAW GROUP FOR MORE INFORMATION
If you have more questions or concerns regarding divorce and other family law issues, you should reach out to Weis Law Group to consult an experienced attorney. With years of legal experience in the practice of family law, our legal team is prepared to help you find a just, fair, and reasonable resolution to your legal dispute.
Please call us at (614) 732-5566 or contact our office online to schedule an initial consultation.