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Why most people get divorced in March

Divorce is a nasty business and this time of the year business is booming.

“Divorces spike shortly after the holidays. That’s the time when people have finally made the decision get a divorce,” lawyer Mark Ohnstad told the online site Findlaw.

The Website reported it sees a surge in searches for divorce information that starts in January and tops out in March, and divorce searches are growing year over year as well.

Pepper Schwartz – sociology professor at the University of Washington, a sex columnist for magazines and the author of more than a dozen popular books about love and relationships – speculates that the spike in divorces during this month can be attributed to a seasonal enlightenment.

After spending the holidays together, spouses may come to the realization that they are no longer happy and it is time to end their marriages.

"I would suppose that it's the spring season, you just had a long miserable winter together, you've had it," Schwartz told KPLU. "A reawakening of the earth and a reawakening of new possibilities."

Searches for information spike

According to, searches for “divorce” and related phrases such as “family law” and “child custody” jumped 50 percent – from just over 10,000 in December 2010 to nearly 16,000 in January 2011, and continued to surge through March.

“Divorce” has been the No. 1 searched term on since February 2010.

Also according to data from Westlaw, an online legal research services for lawyers, divorce filings spike in January and grows to steadily increase through February to the peak in March, Findlaw reported.

“I think the great recession has depressed the divorce rate because people are worried about jobs or housing,” said Ohnstad. “I think as the economy gets better and people get more confident, the number of divorces will increase.”

Two clerical reasons

Two main factors that lead to the spike of divorces in March, some surmise are:

  1. People often postpone the emotionally stressful and time-consuming procedure until after the holiday season. Or, they stick it out through the holidays for the kids.
  2. One's marital status as of Dec. 31 determines whether a person files a joint or an individual tax return.

One emotional possibility

(Video: Just one crazy divorce story ...)

For others, the stress of in-laws, money troubles and career challenges coupled with the pressures to “be happy” during the holidays leads some men and women to cheat on their spouses during this time, the Website said.

A study on holiday depression noted that of those who cheat on their spouses, 56 percent of men and 42 percent of women did so during the holiday season, marriage therapist Bonnie Eaker Weil, told Findlaw.

These affairs may trigger post-New Year’s divorce filings by spouses who discover the affairs or by the cheating spouse who now wants to end the marriage, she surmised.

Schwartz discounted cheating over the holidays as a big reason. Instead, she said while taxes may be on people's minds, mostly it's the spring time promise of a new life.

On the Web:

Junior Communication major at Pacific Lutheran University.