Divorce Month: What to know about the nickname for January in the legal field

For those in the legal field, January is also known as ‘Divorce Month,’ but why is that?

Here's what you should know about the nickname, as well as tips from experts.

Why is it called ‘Divorce Month'?

According to the website for Portland, Ore.-based law firm Goldberg Jones, a number of reasons can result in more divorces during the month of January.

"In some instances, people put off acting on a decision they already made, waiting to get past the stress and chaos of the holidays," read a portion of the website. "In other cases, holidays may be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. All the additional anxiety and activity put increased pressure on a marriage."

The website also state that other reasons, such as financial pressures and a desire for some to have a fresh start by trying to fix problems in their lives, are also factors in increased incidences of divorces.

For her part, Phoenix family law attorney Annette Cox Sandoval said January also happens to be when courts reopen after the holidays.

Are there scientific data that can support claims of a ‘Divorce Month’?

(The Kansas City Star/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

(The Kansas City Star/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)


In August of 2016, officials with the University of Washington published a research on the matter. The research, which was done by an associate sociology professor at the school and a doctoral candidate, shows what officials is believed to be "the first quantitative evidence of a seasonal, biannual pattern of filings for divorce."

According to the research, divorce filings in the State of Washington between 2001 and 2015 would consistently peak during two months of the year. The research, however, shows the months of March and August as the peak periods.

Researchers suggest the time needed to get finances in order, find attorney or simply summon the courage to file for divorce may account for the March spike.

What do experts say about 2024, in terms of divorce?

Cox Sandoval said she does not expect things to change for 2024.

"I think 2024 is going to be much like all the years since COVID, to be honest," said Cox Sandoval. "The divorce rate really hasn’t slowed down."

However, Cox Sandoval said that with a tricky housing market, making such a move might require some finessing.

"Parties sometimes decide to stay on the mortgage and stay on the title for a little bit longer, even though they would be divorced, in order to avoid the higher interest rates and the sluggish sales market," said Cox Sandoval.

Is divorce considered acceptable these days?

According to a Gallup survey in 2022, 81% of Americans surveyed state they believe divorce is morally acceptable.

However, when broken down by political ideology, there are less conservatives (69%) than liberals (93%) who believe divorces are morally acceptable. 

Cox Sandoval said divorces should not have a negative connotation, because ending something negative can be one of the most positive changes a person can make.

"It is a solution to a person's life problems or marriage problems, so I think in that way, it’s a positive," said Cox Sandoval.

What's the divorce rate for Arizona?

For 2021, the latest year data is available, provisional data released by the Census Bureau states there are 2.7 divorces per 1,000 total population living in Arizona. This marks a decrease from just over 20 years ago, when there were 6.9 divorces per every 1,000 Arizonans.

Across the U.S., the divorce rate per 1,000 people is 6.0 for the year 2021, according to census data.

What are some tips for avoiding a divorce?

On their website, Tampa, Fla.-based law firm LaFrance Family Law listed a number of dos and don'ts for couples who want to stay together.

Some of the tips include:

  • Communicate, even when it is hard
  • Re-assess marriage needs
  • Not expecting perfection from your partner
  • Not keeping score in a marriage

Cox Sandoval also said a couple needs to prepare themselves legally before entering into a marriage.

"It never hurts to talk to an attorney, prior to getting married, about doing a prenuptial agreement," said Cox Sandoval.