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Do Divorce Rates Increase During the Holidays?

 Posted on December 05, 2023 in Divorce

Untitled---2023-12-05T093707.299.jpgFor many people, the holiday season provides opportunities for joy, togetherness, and celebration. However, it can also be an incredibly stressful time for some couples and families. Financial strain, higher levels of stress, and unrealistic expectations can put a significant strain on relationships during this season. While divorce rates typically do not increase during the months of November and December, perhaps due to people being busy with holiday celebrations, the month of January often sees a spike in divorce cases. When a couple experiences relationship problems due to holiday-related stress, they may decide to end their marriage after things have calmed down in the new year.

At Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC, we understand the stress that the holidays can often bring and the issues that can lead to the breakdown of a marriage. We know how difficult it can be to choose to end a relationship that is no longer working, and we are here to provide support and guidance during this difficult time. Our attorneys can help you understand the legal issues that you will need to address as you work to dissolve your marriage, and we are prepared to advocate for your interests and make sure you will be prepared for success as you move forward into the next chapter of your life.

5 Common Reasons Why Divorce Rates Increase Following the Holidays 

While there are many reasons why marriages can break down, some issues are especially prevalent during the holiday season. Reasons for divorce during or after the holidays may include:

  1. Financial pressures: Holiday celebrations will often involve a large number of expenses. Buying gifts, traveling to visit family, and hosting parties can stretch a family’s budget and create financial difficulties. Disagreements about what expenses are necessary and how to pay for gifts and other holiday celebrations can magnify existing tensions between spouses. A couple who had already been struggling to address financial concerns may find their relationship stretched beyond the breaking point due to the pressures that come with the holiday season.

  2. Increased family time: While spending quality time with loved ones is often a positive experience, it can become overwhelming during the busy holiday season. Increased interactions with extended family members can lead to conflicts, and existing tensions may lead to new disagreements that may affect a couple’s marriage. These conflicts may reveal underlying issues within a marriage, and family pressures may lead one or both spouses to realize that their relationship is no longer working. 

  3. Unrealistic expectations: Society places pressure on people and families during festive occasions like Christmas and New Year’s Eve. There may be unmet emotional needs between partners, which can lead to disappointment and dissatisfaction. Imbalances in a relationship may also become evident, and if one spouse is putting more work into their relationship than the other, they may decide that they no longer want to put this level of effort into maintaining their marriage.

  4. Stress and fatigue: The holidays often come with a whirlwind of activities, including shopping, decorating, planning events, and traveling. This heightened stress and the fatigue that can come with so many exhausting activities can lead to more disagreements and decreased patience between spouses. This may expose underlying relationship issues, or conflict between spouses may increase to the point where one or both parties decide they no longer want to remain married.

  5. Reflection on the past year: As the end of the year approaches, many people take stock of their lives, evaluate their relationships, and set goals for the future. This self-reflection may prompt some people to reassess their marriage. They may realize that they are not happy in their relationship or that they have different goals than their spouse. As they look at what they want out of life and what will make them happy, they may decide that divorce is the best option for them and their family.

Understanding the Divorce Process

In Illinois, divorce is legally referred to as "dissolution of marriage." When a person decides to dissolve their marriage, they will follow certain specific steps, and there are a number of legal requirements that they will need to meet. The steps followed during the divorce process will include:

  1. Filing a divorce petition: The divorce process will officially begin when one spouse files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with their local county court. This petition will state that the couple’s marriage has broken down due to irreconcilable differences (the only accepted grounds for divorce in Illinois), and it will also include some requests for temporary relief that will address how certain issues will be handled while the divorce process is ongoing. Temporary relief may include issues related to the custody of a couple’s children, possession of certain pieces of property, and requests for ongoing financial support.

  2. Service and response: The other spouse must be served with a copy of the divorce petition, providing them notice of the pending divorce proceedings. They will be required to file a response to the petition, and they will typically have 30 days to do so. This may simply be a court appearance acknowledging that they have received the petition, or they may file a counter-petition in which they make their own requests for temporary relief. If the spouse fails to file a response to the divorce petition, a default judgment may be entered, and the petitioner’s requests for temporary relief may be granted.

  3. Discovery process: As a couple proceeds with the divorce process, they and their attorneys will gather all relevant information that may play a role in their case. Both parties are required by law to disclose all financial information, including their sources of income, the assets they own, the debts they owe, and their ongoing expenses. Each party’s attorney may take steps to gather information by sending requests to the other party, holding depositions, or issuing subpoenas.

  4. Settlement negotiations: The spouses may attempt to negotiate a divorce settlement that will address all of the outstanding issues in their case. They may do so by communicating with each other through their attorneys, or they may use methods such as mediation to reach agreements. If a couple is able to agree on all terms of their settlement, they will be able to file the settlement in court and complete the divorce process.

  5. Trial: If negotiations fail to reach a settlement, the case may proceed to a trial. Typically, a pre-trial conference will be held in which the parties’ attorneys discuss the outstanding issues with the judge and determine whether agreements can be made. If a settlement still cannot be reached, a trial may be held in which both parties will be able to present evidence and call witnesses. At the conclusion of the trial, the judge will make the final decisions about how all contested matters will be resolved. 

  6. Final divorce decree or judgment: At the conclusion of the case, the final decisions will be signed off on by the judge. An agreed settlement will become a divorce decree, or the decisions made during a trial will be set down in a divorce judgment. These documents will be legally binding, and the spouses will be required to abide by the decisions made going forward.

Key Legal Issues in Divorce

During the divorce process, there are several important legal issues that will need to be addressed:

  • Child custody and parenting time: If a couple has children together, they will need to determine how they will work together as co-parents to make important decisions about how their children will be raised. Legal custody, which is known as the “allocation of parental responsibilities” in Illinois, will address decision-making responsibility regarding children’s education, medical care, and other important matters. Physical custody, which is known as “parenting time” in Illinois, will be divided between parents, giving each parent reasonable amounts of time with their children. Decisions about child custody must be based on what is in the best interests of the couple’s children.

  • Division of assets and debts: A couple will need to make decisions about how ownership of different pieces of marital property will be handled, and they may also need to determine who will be responsible for paying certain debts. Illinois follows an “equitable distribution” principle when dividing marital assets and debts. This means that property acquired during the marriage will generally be divided between spouses fairly, but the division does not necessarily need to be equal. Couples may need to divide multiple types of complex assets, including real estate property, family businesses, and retirement accounts and benefits.

  • Spousal support/alimony: In some divorces, one spouse may be entitled to receive financial support from their ex-spouse after separation. This form of support, which is known as “spousal maintenance” in Illinois, is meant to address income disparities between spouses and ensure that both parties can maintain the standard of living they enjoyed while they were married. When determining whether alimony will be paid, courts may consider factors such as income disparity, career sacrifices made by a spouse during the marriage, contributions a spouse made to the marriage and to the other spouse’s career, and health issues or other factors that may affect either spouse’s income-earning ability.

How a Divorce Attorney Can Help During the Holiday Season in Illinois

If you are considering divorce, or if your relationship is experiencing significant strain during the holiday season, you can seek legal guidance from an experienced divorce attorney. At Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC, we understand the emotional challenges couples face during this time of the year, and we can provide advice on how to prepare for a divorce, protect your rights, and ensure that you will be able to end your marriage successfully. 

Here are a few ways our attorneys can assist you:

  • Evaluate your situation: We will assess your unique circumstances during your initial consultation. We will listen attentively to your concerns about your marriage and discuss the pros and cons of pursuing a divorce.

  • Provide objective advice: We will offer unbiased advice based on our experience representing clients in a variety of family law matters. We will help you make informed decisions about issues related to child custody, property division, spousal support, or any other factors that may affect your case.

  • Navigate the legal process of divorce: Ending your marriage will involve a variety of complex procedures that must be followed carefully. We will guide you through the documents that you will need to prepare and submit during your case, explain the legal issues that may affect you, help you negotiate the terms of your divorce settlement, and provide representation in any court hearings or appearances that will be required.

  • Prioritize children’s well-being: As you address issues related to child custody, our divorce attorneys will help you determine the ways to protect your children’s best interests. We will help you put child custody arrangements and visitation schedules in place that will promote a stable environment for your children. If necessary, we will advocate on your behalf to help you demonstrate that you will be able to provide for your children’s needs and protect their best interests going forward.

  • Work towards amicable solutions: We will strive to help you achieve an amicable resolution to divorce-related disputes through negotiations, mediation, or collaborative law. By helping you negotiate a settlement that will meet your needs, we will work to reduce stress and avoid the difficulties associated with lengthy court battles.

Contact Our DuPage County Divorce Lawyers

Navigating the complexities of divorce during the holiday season can be overwhelming. At Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC, our team of experienced Elmhurst divorce attorneys is here to support you every step of the way. We understand the unique challenges you are facing during this time, and we are ready to provide you with the legal help you need to make sure you can end your marriage successfully. Contact us today at 312-605-4041 to arrange a consultation and learn how we can help you address divorce, child custody, or any other related issues.

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