It’s a well known phenomenon in law offices across the country that January sees an increase of couples initiating divorce proceedings. Whether it’s a desire to start the new year with a clean (and single) slate, or that the end of the holidays means an end to keeping up appearances, if you’re going to split, January seems to be the time to do it.
In January of 2011, I saw four of my closest friends end their marriages in a domino like procession, with my own serious relationship coming to an end later that year. We were all in our early 30’s and in relationships that weren’t working. It was now or never. Stay, procreate and be unhappy, or take a leap into uncertainty while we were still young. However, what exactly is compelling so many Canadians to part ways at the beginning of the new year?
Iona Monk, a registered clinical counsellor and founder of Vancouver Couples Counselling explains, “I think in general the new year is a time to re-evaluate most things in our life and make resolutions that involve living better.” Sometimes “living better” involves ending a relationship that’s no longer working.
Monk goes on to explain, “We tend to glamorize and romanticize the holiday season. When January rolls around and we realize that the reality of the holidays falls terribly short of our expectations, it can be the wakeup call we need to really see what is wrong. If your relationship is not happy at the happiest time of the year, it can be hard to rationalize and continue it with our heads in the sand!” she explains.
However, there is some good news. According to Devry Smith Frank LLP, Toronto’s largest legal firm outside the downtown core, 74% of couples believe that they can divorce amicably.
Julie Tyas, a lawyer with almost 7 years’ experience in family law, says “We expect to see our calendars fill up every January with appointments to explore divorce proceedings but we’d never expect such optimism from Canadians about keeping divorce amicable,” she says.
With that said, just because we’re in the midst of “divorce month” doesn’t mean any of us should approach divorce any less cautiously. As Tyas points out, most Canadians don’t prepare for divorce. Instead of making rash decisions, she suggests getting your finances in order and speaking with your partner openly about how you’d like to go about the process.
As Tyas is careful to note, “The reality is that divorce rates are continuing to rise, and difficult conversations before initiating any type of dispute resolution process can help to ensure a more amicable separation.” Wise advice, regardless of the time of year.