The appetite for divorce appears to be seasonal.
Researchers at the University of Washington analyzed 14 years of divorce filings in the state, and found applications consistently peaked in March and August — which they linked to the end of winter and summer breaks.
Holidays can be an emotionally-charged and stressful time for many families. But filing for divorce during that time is considered “inappropriate” and even taboo, argues associate sociology professor Julie Brines.
Her team believes the consistent bi-annual pattern in filings represents “the disillusionment unhappy spouses feel when the holidays don’t live up to expectations.”
Brines thinks the impending start of the school year may provide a greater impetus for a summer breakup, at least for couples with kids.
She suggests those who file in March may need a few months to get their finances in order after the holidays. Or it might take that long to summon the courage to pull the plug.
Canadian lawyers say they see a spike much sooner after the Christmas vacation.
WATCH: “Divorce day” falls on the first Monday back from the winter break, which is when lawyers report a spike in divorce inquiries
The Canadian average divorce rate for a first marriage is 33 per cent (a far cry from the 50 per cent stat that’s often thrown around).
Divorce rates are on the decline in large part because fewer people tie the knot and more people co-habitate, relationship expert Jessica O’Reilly told Global News in December.
The marriage rate is lowest in Quebec, where only 37.5 per cent of the population gets hitched.
WATCH: Why divorce rates are dropping
The Yukon has the highest divorce rate in Canada at 59.7 per cent, and Newfoundland and Labrador enjoys the lowest at 25 per cent. In Ontario, 42.1 per cent of marriages end before their 30th anniversary.
As for why couples call it quits, a 2014 survey found fights over money trumped cheating as the leading cause of divorce. Other polls have put communication problems at the top of the list.
O’Reilly has previously said those who invest a lot of money into their wedding are also more likely to split.
The Institute for Family Studies in the U.S. confirmed another trend last summer: those who marry later — specifically between the age of 30 and 34 — have the lowest rates of divorce.
“Couples in their 30s are more mature and usually have a sounder economic foundation,” explained Nicholas Wolfinger, a professor of family and consumer studies and sociology at the University of Utah.
“Conversely, youthful marriage is correlated with lower educational attainment, which compounds divorce risk no matter how old you are.”
And contrary to popular belief, a 2015 U.S. study found having a baby before marriage doesn’t increase your risk of divorce.
— With files from Peter Kim, Global News