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Couples may wait until after the holidays to divorce, study says


Labor Day has come and gone in Rhode Island, signaling the end of summer and ushering in the fall season. This time of year, according to some researchers, also ushers in another aspect of life for some couples -- divorce.

A study by sociologists at the University of Washington reported that there are two peak times for divorce: March and August. The study examined the number of divorce filings in Washington spanning from 2001 to 2015. Notably, the peaks occurred both after the winter holiday season and the summer vacation season before the start of school.

According to researchers, these peaks coincided with a "domestic ritual" calendar. For example, people may be hesitant to divorce during the winter holiday season and the summer vacation season as these periods in the calendar are deemed "culturally sacred." They are seen as happy times of family unity, and some couples may think that during this time of togetherness their marriage might be mended in what researchers describe as an "optimism cycle." Therefore, couples may not want to mar these holidays by filing for divorce during these time periods.

According to this study, the August peak may indicate that couples who ultimately want to divorce may want to do so before their children start school in September. However, the delay between the winter holiday season and the March peak may be explained by the fact that before getting divorced, a spouse needs to find an attorney and get financial affairs squared away, as well as simply come up with the nerve to go through with a divorce.

While some months may see more divorce filings than others, in the end divorce can happen any time of the year. Unhappy couples may ultimately decide that they are better off ending their marriage and going their separate ways. However, once the decision to file for divorce is made, spouses should make sure they understand what their rights going forward are, specifically with regards to any divorce issues they will face, such as spousal support, child support and custody and property division.

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