Why do divorce rates double over Christmas?

By Lenore Rice

Statistics on divorce regularly reveal a spike in the number of people separating in the month of January, so what is it about the Christmas period that pushes couples to divorce.

As with divorces during the rest of the year there is rarely one single isolated event that causes one of the spouses to request a divorce - except for cases were infidelity is involved. The main reason cited for divorces in the UK is 'unreasonable behaviour', which can cover any number of things, but most usually involve the accumulative effect of certain actions or behaviour over a period of time.

The difference with Christmas compared to the rest of the year is that there is an intense period of approximately two to three weeks which will test any couple, and often break couples who were already going through difficulties. There is a lot of financial stress associated with the large expenses a family encounters in the month of December, and as a result of days off work, the couple are spending more time in each others' company during the stress of the holiday preparations – driving in wintry conditions, Christmas traffic, packed shops, expense after expense etc.

More time is spent with in-laws, which for many spouses is not a pleasant experience, and soon the pressure on the relationship starts to build up. There is in many households a higher consumption of alcohol which can result in things that were held back being vocalised, or to inappropriate behaviour in the family setting or at a work party.

Finally, one of the spouses may have been considering divorce for sometime but preferred to wait until after Christmas to avoid awkwardness at family gatherings, or in particular if there children involved. They will often wait until January to communicate to their spouse that they want to divorce.

Christmas in itself does not cause divorce, and in many cases it actually stalls it for a few months. Rather, couples should be conscious of the added stress that comes with preparing for the holiday season, and be more careful with their consumption of alcohol if they want to help protect against existing problems in the relationship escalating. While it is a difficult subject to broach, couples should also be honest about their relationship with their in-laws and be sensitive to each other when making plans over the Christmas holidays.

If you require legal advice from a divorce solicitor in Northern Ireland contact Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast by calling 0800 840 1363.