Bye Bye Festive Season, Hallo Divorce Season - the unfortunate reality.

2014-01-07 20:36

The reasons may vary, but the results are the same -- divorces follow the seasons. Couples' therapists and divorce attorneys find their telephones ringing more constantly in the first and second months of the year which is dubbed "divorce season" because of the annual spike in divorces typically take place during these months.

The run-up to Christmas and New Year is not exactly a good time for a break up or separation. But then, thinking realistically about it, there isn't actually a good time for this sort of thing ever.

Why January and February? Some of the reasons couples decide to soldier through the months of November and December is often based on an emotional rationale: they don't want to spoil their holiday season for their families. Whether this means not wanting to make a abrupt change that will upset their children's holiday traditions, or a desire to "keep up appearances" through one more Christmas or New Year with the extended family, it's common for spouses to stick together for a while, even when their decision to divorce is final.

Going through a divorce is a painful process for all concerned mainly when there are children involved. A question that remains very difficult for warring couples to answer is “do we stay together for the sake of our children and pretend that all is hunky-dory between us”; or “do we make the decision that we, as individuals, and our children will be better off without having to endure the daily incidents of watching us as parents behave like teenagers throwing cutlery across the table”?

With the questions above in mind it is interesting to note that a recent survey by parenting website Netmums has found that divorced parents are often in denial about how badly the separation has damaged their children. More than ¾ believed their children had ‘coped well’ even though just 18% of youngsters said they were happy with the situation. Some were insensitive enough to break the news of the divorce to their children by way of sms. The survey, polled about 1,000 divorced parents and 100 children aged 8 to 18 from broken homes.

Although the survey included a relatively small pool of children, a stark picture emerged of the tussles that many of the children faced when coping with their parents’ separation. One in 20 had turned to alcohol and one in 9 had purposely wounded themselves. A further 6% had considered suicide. Almost 1/3 described themselves as devastated by divorce, while one in 12 thought that it meant their mothers and fathers ‘did not love them’.

It does not matter how you look at divorce, it is always demoralizing. The two months post-Christmas is well-known to be one of the most common times of the year for divorce. In my experience as a Family Law Attorney there tends to be two reasons for this namely, the stress and pressure of Christmas and the festive season, secondly, few people want to separate immediately before the festive period, so many spouses tough it out until the holiday is over, rather than spoiling the good feelings of the rest of the family during this wonderful time and thirdly because one partner's new year's resolution, "I never again want to be with him or her for another year".

When people do decide to tackle the subject, it's quite obvious. A review of Google search trends between December and January paints a fairly stark picture, with a whole range of related terms taking a sharp upward spike. As the year wears on, those terms settle back down again, until after the Christmas.

It is said that divorce is more emotionally devastating than losing employment, about equal to experiencing a major illness, and somewhat less devastating than the death of a spouse. The destruction of a family is always problematic for everybody involved, irrespective of whether one partner or both initiated the separation. Add children to the mix, and the it becomes even more complex.

Compiled by Bertus Preller

Family Law and Divorce Attorney and author of Everyone’s Guide to Divorce and Separation – Random House.

Twitter: bertuspreller




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