The January Jolt: Unraveling the Divorce Month Phenomenon

By Cheryl Goldhart
Founder and Principal of Goldhart Law and Goldhart Mediation & Arbitration

As the calendar turns to January, family law firms brace for the predictable surge in divorce inquiries dubbed the “January Jolt.” At Goldhart Law, our nearly 40 years of experience have uncovered factors driving this annual phenomenon.

What Triggers the Emotional January Jolt?

The January Jolt reflects multiple issues converging as the year changes, prompting marriage reevaluations. The symbolic fresh start of a new year motivates major life decisions for many unhappy spouses – including pursuing divorce.

“The January Jolt is real. We see a very noticeable increase of new clients seeking a divorce in January and February.” – Cheryl Goldhart, Founder Goldhart Law PC

Factors contributing to this trend include:

  1. New Year, New Beginnings: The symbolic fresh start of a new year encourages individuals to make significant life changes, including ending unhappy relationships.
  2. Financial Strains: Overspending during the holidays can bring underlying financial disagreements to the forefront.
  3. Post-Holiday Reflection: The holidays often prompt a deep reflection on personal happiness and relationship satisfaction, leading many to reconsider their marital status in the new year.
  4. Family Dynamics: Extended time with family over the holidays can intensify existing marital issues or highlight incompatibilities.
  5. Delayed Decisions: Many couples choose to wait until after the holidays to avoid disrupting family celebrations, leading to a spike in divorce inquiries in January.
  6. Winter Blues: The post-holiday period can often bring a sense of melancholy or reality check, which can prompt re-evaluation of life choices, including marital dissatisfaction.
  7. Legal and Financial Planning: Some individuals use the holiday period to discreetly plan and prepare for divorce, making moves in January for a strategic start to the legal process.
  8. Infidelity: The holiday season, filled with social events and opportunities, can unfortunately also be a time when infidelities come to light or occur, leading to breakdowns in relationships.
  9. School Calendar: Parents might choose January to minimize disruption to their children’s school year, planning for a transition that aligns with the academic calendar.
  10. Tax Considerations: Financial and tax planning can influence the timing of divorce filings, with some couples choosing the start of a new tax year to simplify their financial separations.

Understanding the Legal Landscape

Divorce proceedings can be complex, and understanding the legal landscape is crucial. Here are some key considerations:

  1. Legal Requirements: Familiarize yourself with Ontario’s divorce laws and concepts, such as the determination of “net family property”, which is a key consideration relating to financial matters.
  2. Financial Implications: Consider the financial aspects, including asset division and potential spousal and child support.
  3. Parenting: If children are involved, understanding laws regarding parenting time and decision-making and prioritizing the well-being of your children is essential.

Final Thoughts

Each of the reasons above contribute to the complex tapestry of why January sees a notable increase in divorce inquiries. Understanding these factors can help individuals navigate their decisions with greater awareness and support. At Goldhart Law, we’re here to provide expert guidance through this challenging process, ensuring that our clients’ needs and well-being are at the forefront.

Let’s continue to elevate the practice of family law in Ontario!

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Cheryl Goldhart is a family law lawyer who can make a difference in resolving your family disputes.

  • Near 40 Years of Family Law Experience: Cheryl has extensive experience in family law acquired through nearly 40 years of experience practicing family law exclusively.
  • Masters Degree in Counselling: Her degree in Counselling provides her with unique understanding and empathy.
  • Law Society of Ontario Certified Family Law Specialist: Reflecting her expertise in family law, Cheryl is a Law Society of Ontario Certified Family Law Specialist.
  • Accredited Mediator by OAFM: She is a trusted mediator, officially recognized by the Ontario Association for Family Mediation.
  • ADR Institute Designation: Cheryl is accredited by Ontario’s ADR Institute as an ADR Professional,  reflecting her expertise as an arbitrator.
  • Numerous Honours & Accolades: She is the recipient of many awards and honours, including the prestigious Ontario Bar Association’s Award for Excellence in Family Law.

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. Consult with a qualified family law attorney for advice regarding your specific situation. Goldhart Law Professional Corporation is not responsible for any actions taken based on the information presented in this blog.

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