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20 Jun 2022

Family & Matrimonial

Why is there an increase in divorce rates after the summer holidays?

For many, the summer holidays are the most highly anticipated months of the year. It’s a time for sun, family and a well-deserved break from work. And yet, it’s sad to say that divorce lawyers often see a spike in enquiries at the end of the holidays from couples who have decided that enough is enough. Leah Thomas, a Senior Associate within our Family & Matrimonial department, gives her view on why so many couples choose to split at the end of the summer.

Sadly, there is a clearly defined pattern of divorce peaks during the first three months of the year, largely due to the emotional and financial stresses of the Christmas period, and then again in August. According to studies, this later peak relates to the challenges and pressures of families spending so much time together over the summer holidays.

After any period of intense time with each other, couples in rocky relationships can start to wonder if they still belong together, but why do the summer holidays tend to be such a “make or break” time for marriages?

Holiday seasons cause high levels of stress

The Christmas and New Year holidays are notorious for leading to an increase in divorce as relationships crumble following the pressures of the festive season and couples re-evaluating their futures at the beginning of a new year. Although not as pronounced, the summer holiday season can have a similar effect on couples and we tend to witness an annual spike in inquiries about divorce towards the end of the summer.

Lots of parents end the summer holiday period by taking a long hard look at their relationship with their partner and, in some cases, taking it as far as a separation or divorce.

The expectations of a happy summer

Summer is usually seen as a time to restart after the cold winter months and the warmer weather and longer days often signify a new start or a catalyst to make big life changes.

Couples whose marriages have been struggling through the year can sometimes see the summer as a break from those problems and as an opportunity to give their marriage another chance. This is great if that plan works out but often, the reality can fail to match the dream.

With summer holidays, the pressures of keeping everyone occupied while trying to find time to relax can, paradoxically, create more tension for parents who have travelled abroad in search of sunny weather and happiness.

At this time of the year, couples tend to invest a huge proportion of their annual budget into their family holiday. Often, our holidays don’t live up to expectations and practical challenges can get in the way. From the stresses of planning and packing through to problems with delayed flights and disappointing accommodation, there are all sorts of things that can go awry on a summer holiday and this can often place even more of a strain on the relationship. Any existing tensions will only worsen with a relationship that is already damaged and, without the usual daily distractions, reality can really start to bite. For many in this situation, it proves to be all too much, and once back home, they often accept that the damage has already been done and the marriage is over.

School’s out for summer

As mundane as it sounds, the routine of everyday life can actually help to disguise underlying marital problems as issues and niggles can get swept under the carpet and overlooked in a normal working week as the lack of time and energy makes it easy to ignore certain gripes and complaints.

For couples with children, the routine of the school and work day can often be all-consuming, leaving no time to focus or work on any core problems within the marriage. When school closes for the summer, however, this can become a very different story for many couples as there is often a significant shift towards spending more time together as a family. While for most people, this is time to be enjoyed and celebrated, it can also add pressure, giving couples in unhappy relationships more time to re-evaluate their marriage. IN reality, holidays can be a test of even the strongest of relationships.

The chance to give the family one last memory together

Many couples who have already decided to split are not keen to break the news to their children during the school year because divorce often means uprooting their lives and can be very disruptive, which is far from ideal when they are studying for important tests or exams. Instead, many couples in these circumstances try to wait till the end of the school year to make things official, but ultimately push it back because they have already made plans and booked family holidays that they do not want to ruin.

Divorce can be particularly hard on children, so with their best interests in mind, many parents see August as the best time to break the news, while they are off school with no other stresses, and long enough in advance of the Christmas season for things to have hopefully settled by then.

Empty nesters

The other milestone that typically happens at the end of the summer is that older children go off to University, leaving many couples as empty nesters, for the first time in 18 years. Being left alone in their newly empty homes without the distractions and busy lives of their children to contend with, often forces couples to look at their relationship and if there are already problems within the relationship, many married couples feel that there is nothing left to hold on to when the children have left.

Get in touch

Whatever the time of year, it’s important that anyone considering or facing divorce receives the right legal advice as early as possible. Too often, people rely on friends and internet forums for advice, which can often be incorrect. At Harding Evans we will treat you with compassion and sensitivity, always striving to ensure the best outcome for you and your children.

For a confidential discussion about your situation, please contact our Family department.

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