They didn't set out to do a study on divorce, but two University of Washington researchers poring over a range of sociological data saw such a clear pattern emerge that they've ended up with one: It turns out that that married couples divorce most often in March and August. When the researchers plotted the data from 2001 to 2015, the divorce spike in those two months was both striking and consistent, they write in a press release. And while that data comes exclusively from Washington state, it seems to apply nationwide. The researchers followed up with a look at data from Ohio, Minnesota, Florida, and Arizona, and found the same pattern. So what's going on? They think winter holidays and summer vacations are a big factor.
These are both "culturally sacred times for families," says associate sociology professor Julie Brines, per the UW release. That is, couples may be reluctant to split around Christmas, or just ahead of an annual vacation, and instead view those times instead as an opportunity to mend a troubled relationship. "One last shot," as Brines puts it, per the Atlantic. If they fail, the added stress of the holidays or the tight quarters of a vacation then push the couple toward divorce. The delay from post-holidays to March in the divorce filings may be because the holidays put such a heavy dent in the wallet, notes Bustle. That's less of an issue in the summer, and the researchers speculate that, for couples with kids, the start of school may actually speed things along. (This woman was selling her wedding dress to pay for her divorce, complete with "stench of betrayal.")