More Divorces in the New Year and other Divorce Beliefs

Do divorce filings increase in the New Year? As a family law attorney, I see a general decrease in actual court appearances and new case filings during the latter half of December, but at the same time there are a lot of inquiries and planning for actions that people intend to take in the New Year. What could account for the lull in December and the increase in the New Year? Some of the reasons are obvious such as, that are holiday parties and vacations being taken by lawyers, judges, and the rest of the world at the end of the year. Because of the holidays, there are less court appearances scheduled. Also, a lot of people are reluctant to begin divorce proceedings or their family law cases during the holidays. It makes sense to try to keep the peace until the holidays are over. Not many people want to distract themselves with a battle at the end of December. People tend to have a lot of family interactions at the end of the year which might explain the family law case slow down.

What happens then in the New Year? I think the cases that normally would have been started had it not been holiday season just get delayed until the New Year. I believe that many could be as a result of New Year’s resolutions. Some people decide that they will not tolerate things as they have been for another year. Also, sometimes the holiday seasons can make family difficulties amplified.

These are my theories I have come up with in my practice as a divorce mediator and divorce lawyer. But is the January uptick in divorces a real phenomenon? The Huffington Post reported that it is a real statistic. While apparently there is no specific “D-day” for divorce filings, there does seem to be an increase at the beginning of the New Year.

What about the commonly held belief that half of marriages end up in divorce? Is this true for New York since the 2010 law changes? New York did make it easier to get a divorce as of 2010 with the passage of the No-fault law.  In that law, New York joined the rest of the country with the passage of the irretrievable breakdown of marriage law which states that a couple can get divorced if the marriage has irretrievably broken down for at least six months. It is not the husband’s fault or the wife’s fault. Prior to that time, the closest thing New York had to No-Fault divorce was living apart after a legal separation for one year. The rest of the grounds were fault based such as: cruel and inhuman treatment; adultery; abandonment; or imprisonment.

Although after the passage of the No-Fault law there has been a slight up-tick in the number of divorces filed in New York, over the past couple of decades, overall the divorce rate has decreased. New York, interestingly or even surprisingly, however, has one of the lowest divorce rates in the country as compared to the rest of the 49 other states.

According to a New York Times article in December 2014, it is no longer true that half of marriages end up in divorce or that the divorce rate is rising.   According to the article, the myth that half of marriages end in divorce was based upon a projection from the early baby-boomer generation marriages. Apparently it was only a projection and when looking at divorce over the years and recent trends, it no longer holds to be true. The Times cited that rates increased in the 1970’s and 19080’s but over the last two decades the divorce rates have dropped overall. On the other hand, in an early article the Times reported that divorce rates for those 50 and over has doubled since the 1990s.

If you are unhappy with your current situation or have questions about family law issues in New York, I encourage you to contact us about your questions. Please see our website and other blog articles about different topics. We offer free initial consultations about your divorce, family law, mediation or collaborative law questions. It would be our pleasure to try to help.

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