What is Divorce Day?

Divorce Day is the first Monday after New Year. It is meant to be the most popular time of the year for couples to either start researching divorce or even to start divorce proceedings. I have found that there are always a lot of enquiries in January with February and March being my busy months for actually processing divorces.

It is not a glib marketing gimmick invented to promote divorces. It is an observation of the annual trends and patterns which come from working as a divorce solicitor.

But why do we think that there should be an increase in divorce enquiries in the first week of January? It is thought to be the result of two factors:

  • Holiday Pressure.

    The pressure of the holiday season with extended families in confined spaces, preparation, cooking and travelling all combined with drinking will cause strain on already troubled marriages.

  • Divorces On Pause.

    In any given month there will be a certain number of divorces within the UK population. In December couples will put off a divorce until after Christmas and New Year for the sake of not ruining the holiday for their children and everyone else around them. So a sudden surge of divorce enquiries is due to a backlog of people all searching at once rather than spread through the previous month.

When you look at search engine volume for the term ‘divorce’ there is a spike in every January and there is a lull every December. This makes sense if couples are deliberately avoiding researching divorce while preparing for Christmas and New Year.

“Divorce Day” is a very recent term though. The earliest searches for it are from 2007 although you do not see any reasonable traffic for the term until 2018.

There are other holidays, are there not more Divorce Days?

If people put off something as life changing as divorce for Christmas and New Year then would they not do the same for other holidays? Would the holiday stress be the same at different times of the year?

January has the biggest annual increase in enquiries and search engine traffic but there are frequently smaller uplifts seen in June and September. The other months that I am unfortunately most busy are always July, September and October which follow the same pattern as the December lull and January increase.

Again we can see the correlation between holidays and divorces. The UK Summer Half Term starts in May and ends at the beginning of June. September is when the students go back after the Summer Holidays. The pattern is there although the effect is significantly diminished.

This could be down to the significance of Christmas as part of a family’s yearly calendar as opposed to other holidays. It is so important that many more couples will not consider separating during the lead up. Not wanting to spoil Christmas for the children would be reason enough by itself but the thought of being alone or going through a separation on Christmas Day may be too much to bear.

Have there ever been increases or lulls in searches for ‘divorce’ that have not led to an actual increase in divorces?

There are a number of instances where search traffic spikes dramatically but without a significant increase in workload for solicitors.

To give you some context even the highest “Divorce Day” surge in online traffic in the last 5 years was only 65% the volume of the surge caused by the separation of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in 2016.

Another can be seen in April 2019 which easily rivaled any January numbers. It was caused by a combination of the divorce of Kate Beckinsale and Pete Davidson plus the ’government announcing new legislation to overhaul divorce law and reduce family conflict.’

There was a lull in March 2020 which can be attributed to the start of lockdown due to Covid 19 however there was no resulting increase to accompany it. This is most likely down to the obvious difficulties that would be faced by couples should they try to divorce during a quarantine.