For some Pennsylvania residents, the new year might mean a new relationship status from married to divorced as divorce filings increase at the beginning of the new year. While the overall divorce rate dropped by 8% from 2007 to 2017, the trend of increased divorce filings in January has continued. The increase is marked enough that January is unofficially known as “divorce month.”

The decision to seek a divorce after the holidays might come from having lived through stressful experiences including traveling and additional family time. For a marriage that was already struggling, this might be the breaking point, driving people to seek a divorce to prevent having to go through this the next year.

For parents, the motivation might be different. Parents might want to avoid giving their children negative holiday memories, so they hold on until the new year to file. The goal for parents might be to have their children experience one more happy family holiday before everything changes.

There might also be another force motivating people to file for divorce at the beginning of the year. This is the time that people often identify as a moment for self-improvement and new beginnings. For some, this might be the time they see as appropriate to seal the end of a marriage that is struggling and therefore the decision to file for divorce.

Experts recommend keeping in mind that the process of divorce is difficult and that being kind and doing research can help ease the pain that accompanies separation. Being kind means attempting to have the least contentious divorce while researching means preparing for the legal and emotional process. Part of this preparation might include seeking a family law lawyer who might provide both answers to legal questions and guidance about each step of the process.