Marriage can be hard and as we know, not all of them work out. And throughout the year, marriages end for many reasons. According to the American Psychological Association, the divorce rate in the United States is anywhere from 40 to 50 percent.

While divorce filings happen in all months of the year, attorneys’ offices see a surge in divorce inquiries and filings starting in January and continuing through March. The first Monday after the holidays brings an uptick in divorce traffic for attorneys with a lot of requests to start the process. Not all will end up filing, but there are many questions about how to begin the process and how it will work.

So, what is it that causes a surge in divorce filings at this time of year?

For many, January is a time for a refresh in life with New Year’s resolutions and people wanting to start anew. The divorce conversations in January are similar to a surge in gym memberships at the beginning of the year–people resolve to start fresh and walk away from what’s not working, including a failing relationship.

Others have waited out the holiday season perhaps hoping to make things work, only to find out they truly don’t come January first. Many have been thinking about ending the marriage before the holiday season but try to hold on until the New Year. Perhaps there’s enough stress with the holidays themselves or maybe they’re trying to hold it together just to make it through to eliminate additional stress or disruption.

It also could be that the holidays bring lingering marital issues to a head. The emotions and stress of a holiday season could exacerbate underlying tension a couple may be experiencing, causing the feelings to erupt at a sensitive and otherwise stressful time. The issues have likely been there all along, but the holiday stress makes them more apparent.

Maybe the end of the marriage is inevitable, but one spouse holds on for financial reasons. Perhaps the other earns a yearly financial bonus that a spouse is waiting to split, but requires the marriage be intact until the end of the year for it to be shared.

Consult an attorney for direction

Whatever the reasons, if you’ve resolved to be done with a toxic relationship and start over by pursuing a divorce, consult an experienced family law attorney who can help to point you in the right direction and ensure the best possible outcome.