Research Paper on Divorce Patterns Reveals Biannual Spikes in March and August

According to a new research from University of Washington sociologists, March and August are the two months in a year when divorce filings peak. This research analyzed data from the past 15 years in the state of Washington and found a pattern of marriage breakups that suggests that family rituals around winter and summer holidays largely affect decisions of divorce.

Why Divorce Spikes in August and March

Associate sociology professor Julie Brines, PhD and doctoral candidate Brian Serafini did not set out to discover the seasonality in divorce rates. The two researchers intended to study the effects of the 2012 recession on marital stability, but when they looked at divorce filings from 2001 to 2015, they discovered a consistent pattern of breakups happening right after the winter and summer holidays.

Brines and Serafini presented their working paper at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Seattle, and suggested that divorce is governed by a “domestic ritual” calendar where holidays are viewed as sacred to families.

“Family life is governed by a ‘social clock,’” they write, “that mandates the observation of birthdays, holidays, or other special transitions involving family members over the course of a year.”

This means that couples may see the holidays as “one last shot” to fix their relationships and start over. “People tend to face the holidays with rising expectations, despite what disappointments they might have had in years past,” Brines said. “They represent periods in the year when there’s the anticipation or the opportunity for a new beginning, a new start, something different, a transition into a new period of life.”

Unfortunately, the holidays often don’t live up to those expectations and couples find that their differences are irreconcilable after a big trip.

Brines and Serafini suspect that couples need some time to hire lawyers and get their finances in order, that is why there is a gap between the New Year’s and the spikes in March. The same logic can be applied for the spikes in August, which happen a month or two after summer vacation.

Further Studies on Divorce Patterns

Brines and Serafini hope to extend their research to other states to see if their research hypotheses will hold for a larger sample size. So far, the two researchers have looked into Florida, Ohio, Minnesota, and Arizona. Despite the differences in demographics and economic factors, Brines and Serafini find that couples from these states share the seasonal divorce pattern.

If you need more help understanding the legal processes involved in getting a divorce, contact Lyttle Law Firm for a consultation today. Call us at 512.215.5225 to get started.