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Debunking the myths: Christmas and divorce

Is there a connection between Christmas and divorce?

Christmas is often blamed for early January’s spike in divorce – it’s no coincidence that the first working Monday of January is dubbed ‘Divorce Day’.

By the new year the festivities are over, the decorations have been packed away, and the school holidays have ended. Couples have successfully ‘got through’ Christmas.

However, if the festive season has highlighted tensions, you might not feel able to return to normal. If you’ve reached the decision that your relationship has come to an end, a new start in January can be an appealing proposition.

So, what is it about Christmas that can so often trigger divorce?

The additional pressures of Christmas

There are infinite deeply personal and unique reasons for a marriage to end. Far from being the sole catalyst for divorce or separation, it’s the additional pressures of the holidays that are often the final straw.

Busy Christmastime

Life is transformed for a few weeks over Christmas as you try to squeeze in multiple nights out with friends, festive school events, work Christmas dos, seeing the in-laws, and holiday traditions. It’s no surprise that many will feel festive burnout.

Maintaining goodwill between you and your partner while you’re juggling a busy calendar and running on empty, isn’t easy at the best of times. Even harder when you’re facing relationship difficulties or considering a split.

All about the children

There’s undeniably a seasonal pressure to make Christmas feel special for our children and that can prove challenging if your marriage is reaching the end.

While you focus on your children, differences in parenting approach and existing cracks in your relationship can become more apparent.

Sometimes parents will agree to ‘get through’ Christmas, knowing that in January they’ll begin divorce proceedings.

Delaying the start of divorce until after the school holidays is one of the reasons that divorce enquiries typically rise in January and September.

The most expensive time of the year

The past few years have stretched family finances, as the cost-of-living crisis hit. Household budgets have absorbed increases in the cost of essentials like food, utilities, and housing, leaving less for in the pot for Christmas.

For couples already feeling the financial strain on their relationship, the costs of Christmas can be a tipping point.

A happy front

Unless you’re comfortable making rifts and tensions obvious, you’ll likely try to put on a happy, united front over Christmas while you spend more time with friends and family.

You might be trying to shield children from the reality, or simply avoid signalling to others that things aren’t so good, to protect your privacy.

Either way, the pressure of keeping up the pretence is exhausting and is likely to deepen rifts rather than resolve the issues brewing between you and your partner.

Putting divorce off until the new year

The thought of making a life-changing decision about your marriage whilst the kids are excited about Christmas and your calendar is full of plans with friends and family, can feel just too overwhelming.

Instead, the Christmas period can be an opportunity to pause and take stock while thoughts are gathered and plans thought through. A way of delaying the decision, either individually or as a couple, until life is less hectic, and you can devote more time and energy to going about separation in the right way.

The truth about Christmas and divorce

Blaming Christmas for divorces oversimplifies the complexities of marriage and relationships. Rather than being a one-off event that causes divorce and separation, Christmas exposes fault lines that have been simmering beneath the surface long before December.

Get in touch

Whatever the time of year, if you’re thinking about divorce and would like to explore your options with a divorce law specialist, you can contact our family law team today.

Useful links

What to do if you think your marriage is over

Can I afford to divorce my partner?

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The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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As the UK's largest family law firm we understand that every case is personal.

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