While many of us are dragging ourselves away from the cheese, leftover mince pies and Quality Street and into the first proper day of work in 2020, there’s another reason today isn’t the jolliest of days.
Hold onto your wedding rings, everyone, for today is Divorce Day.
The first Monday back at work after the holiday season, or Divorce Day as it has come to be known by those in the legal profession, marks the day when lawyers reportedly see a spike in couples filing to end their marriages.
Happy New Year!
According to new research by law firm Richard Nelson, the number of Google searches for ‘I want a divorce’ rose by over 230% over the past week.
Meanwhile, the firm also reports that the number of divorce inquiries they processed during the Christmas and New Year period of 2019/2020 had increased by over 30% compared to November 2019.
Google Trends data also shows interest for the term ‘divorce’ grew by 51.6% between 6th and 12th January 2019, a record predicted to rise for Divorce Day this year.
And if people aren’t actively filing for divorce, this time of year could prompt them to begin an affair instead.
Results from a survey by IllicitEncounters.com, revealed that this week is set to be the busiest time for cheating in 2020 with 50,000 thousand people in the UK starting affairs.
According to the stats January sees a 100% rise in extra-marital activity compared to the quietest month of the year for having an affair, which is August.
The peak week for cheating is the first full week back at work, which starts today (Monday, January 6th).
But what is prompting this collective drive for people to end their marriages?
While it might seem strange that so many people think about getting divorced at the same time, according to life coach Sara Davison, AKA The Divorce Coach who runs break-up recovery retreats, there are some reasons why this time of year can prompt relationship breakdowns.
Davison says that festive period pressures can reach a crescendo, in what she describes as a “switch flicking moment.”
“This is when something tips the balance and you decide you just can’t do this anymore. Enough is enough and you want out,” she explains.
“Unfortunately this is the case for many couples at this time of year and explains why the divorce rate peaks in the new year.”
New year, no you!
According to Davison there are several reasons why this time of year can lead to relationship flare-ups, for a start spending prolonged periods with family over the festive period.
“If you have a solid relationship [spending time with family] can make it even stronger,” she explains.
“However, if the foundations of the relationship are rocky spending increased amounts of time together can increase the pressure and the cracks will start to show.”
The holidays can also place more scrutiny on the relationship as couples spend more time together.
“Over Christmas the usual routine of work and school runs is disrupted. We are no longer distracted by them and so we have more time to focus on the relationship and how it is going,” she adds.
According to Davison many people may actually have decided to break up well before Christmas, but made the decision to get through the festive period so as not to upset the family, especially if there are children involved, which could help explain why the new year prompts them to finally leave.
There’s also a chance that Christmas festivities have been a contributing factor to those already considering a split.
“It’s the season for parties and drinking and if your relationship is already on the rocks it can sadly be a trigger for infidelity,” Davison explains.
Financial pressures can also mount over Christmas, which can inevitably cause arguments and tension for couples already feeling the strain.
Dennie Smith, creator of Old Style Dating believes new year, new life mentalities can also play a role in the rise in January divorce-seekers.
“Christmas and the New Year is often a time for reassessment of goals around all aspects of life and romance and relationships is one of them,” she explains.
“As people take time off, spend more time together and the daily grind is not present it can highlight problems in a relationship - these become amplified with rows occurring, sometimes over trivialities.
“People will therefore often think they cannot cope with another year of being in a toxic or bland relationship and will decide this is the year to make a change.
Just as they might think the same of a boring job, or being stuck in a rut, or being overweight, or not fit. Change is in the air and a significant minority will actually take action.”
For Jude Clay, 36, founder of https://gluingcheese.co.uk the Christmas and New Year period was definitely a catalyst for ending her seven year marriage having shined a spotlight on its foundations.
“The festive season and the beginning of a new year is such a reflective time for so many of us,” the mum explains.
“We take stock of our lives and the various aspects of that. This can intensify if Christmas has been difficult because of a problematic marriage.”
Though the festive holidays don't have to be the picture perfect dream we're surrounded by for much of December, Jude says that any cracks or strains in a relationship can’t be ignored - or could become increasingly apparent - when under the glare of the Christmas lights.
“For me, it was just that,” she continues. “I knew that I wasn't happy and that things needed to change sooner rather than later.
“It wasn't fair on me, my now ex-husband or our young child to pretend that everything was OK when it definitely wasn't.
“My divorce became the ultimate New Year's Resolution and I didn't look back.”
Is divorce right for you?
If the new year has thrown up doubts about your relationship, it doesn't necessarily mean divorce is on the cards.
Davison advises careful consideration before putting the divorce wheels in motion.
“Getting a divorce is not an easy decision to make,” she says. “It’s important to understand what you will have to face before you make the decision to get a divorce.
“It takes a long time to commit to a marriage so it should take careful consideration to leave.”
Davison says that if you’re struggling to make the decision it could be because you don’t have enough clear information to make that decision and are still being pulled in different directions emotionally.
“Feelings of guilt and uncertainty can cloud your judgement so by having more clarity around what the process looks like you will reduce the overwhelm and stress and enable you to make a better decision,” she adds.
And even you decide your relationship is past the point of resolution, there are still some positives to take from the situation if you do decide to break-up in 2020.
“There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it is true that we only live once so there is no point staying in an unhappy marriage,” says Davison.
“I firmly believe that divorce can be the best thing that has ever happened to you as it really does give you a chance to redesign your life the way you want it to be.
“It is true that sometimes good things fall apart so that better things can come together.”