Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New Year, New Spouse? Studies Show Couples Wait until after the Holidays to Divorce, with Filings Peaking in March

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New Year, New Spouse? Studies Show Couples Wait until after the Holidays to Divorce, with Filings Peaking in March

Article excerpt

It is not uncommon for married couples to take their children on vacation over Christmas, stay in the same hotel rooms and behave as though everything were normal - only to announce at the beginning of the new year they are getting a divorce, according to professionals who handle divorces.

"I have seen many situations where couples decide to get through the holidays and not disrupt this season for their children and then do the marital split in the new year," said Lisa Turbeville, a divorce financial analyst and owner of Watermark Financial in Mt. Lebanon.

When it comes to divorce filings, December has historically been the calm before the storm that makes landfall in January, and reaches its peak, both nationally and locally, in March.

Allegheny County court records dating from January 2010 to December 2015 find the month of December consistently has had the lowest number of divorce filings, and March has consistently had the highest.

The Egan, Minn.-based legal information website FindLaw.com in 2012 declared March as "Divorce Month" after analyzing filings across the U.S. between 2008 and 2011 with Westlaw, a legal research database. The analysis revealed divorces spike in January, continue to rise, and then peak in late March.

Pittsburgh family law attorney Robin Frank with the Downtown law firm Raphael, Ramsden & Behers said the March madness has as much to do with family finances as with family dynamics.

"When people come to an attorney's office, they typically have to pay a retainer fee to engage their services," she said. "With holiday spending in December, people tend to prioritize expenses with gifts for family and friends and holiday gatherings. After the holidays, they have a chance to recoup their savings and pay the retainer fee for an attorney."

Ms. Turbeville said the three-month period after December also is when husbands and wives are taking time to choose their divorce lawyers. They are deciding on how to proceed - traditional litigation, a collaborative divorce, or mediation.

She said she has seen the cost of a traditional litigated divorce with child custody issues range from about $10,000 on the low end to $100,000 on the high end. …

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