March is Peak Divorce Season | Johnsen Wikander P.C. West Michigan Divorce Attorneys

March is Peak Divorce Season

Earlier this year, we covered the spike in divorces that typically happens in January. The increase is generally believed to be a result of waiting for the holidays and the end of a tax year. The trend, however, seems to be that the increase begins in January and reaches a peak in March.

Research published last year out of the University of Washington found that the highest rate of divorce filings occurs every year is March. The second main spike in divorce filings comes later in the year, with August being the second month with a notable peak.

Historical Trends

For their research, Julie Brines and Brian Serafini explored 15 years of data from Washington. The available information showed a clear trend: March is consistently the busiest month for divorce filings. They did no begin their research intending to focus on divorce filings, but the trend was too strong to ignore.

Brines described the pattern as “very robust year to year, and very robust across counties” throughout the state. Even when they considered seasonal factors such as unemployment and the housing market, the divorce filing pattern persisted. The pattern varied some during the recession but was not statistically significant. Divorce filings likely would have been impacted by uncertainty surrounding home values and employment prospects, as people nationwide were struggling.

Domestic Ritual

Brines and Serafini believe the data shows that divorce filings are driven by what they call a “domestic ritual” calendar. The same logic applies to why divorce attorneys see an increase starting in January: the holidays are a culturally significant time, so couples wait until they pass to seek divorce.

One reason the peak may not come until March is that people wait to make sure that their finances are in order and they have a solid plan post-divorce. The longer days and increased activity in the springtime may also encourage people to act on their thoughts. Experts believe the extra sunlight and activity elevates people’s moods; we know that could be particularly true following long Grand Rapids winters.

While the research just covered one state, the findings are anecdotally supported across the country. Google searches for divorce-related topics typically increase starting in January. The pair of researchers is now looking into data available from Ohio, Minnesota and Florida to see if the same patterns emerge across the country.

If you are in the Grand Rapids area and considering divorce, or already in the process, our team of experienced divorce attorneys can help. Call or email us today to request your initial consultation.

Bach, D. (2016, August 21). Is divorce seasonal? UW research shows biannual spike in divorce filings. Retrieved March 16, 2017 from