In any given year, most people admit that the holiday season poses not only the potential for great joy but also for great stress. When a couple in an already stressed marriage starts in on this season, both spouses may wonder how or if they will survive it together.

For many years, statistics pointed to an uptick in divorce cases once the holidays conclude. Some research provides even more context around the potentially seasonal nature of divorce.

Late-year decline followed by early-year increase

As reported by The Atlantic, scientists at the University of Washington scoured 15 years worth of divorce data to confirm that filings for new divorces do indeed drop off as the end of the year approaches. This decline continues through the month of December.

With the hanging of a new calendar comes an increase in new divorce filings. This increase actually continues for the first quarter of the new year.

Late-summer spike precedes late-year decline

According to The Today Show, August joins March as the two months posting the highest average divorce filings throughout the year. After a rise from January through March, these filings drop and level off for a few months before the August spike.

Gap between deciding and acting

Some spouses may push through a holiday season in part to salvage traditions and celebrations for children. They may also hold out hope that some healing in the marriage may take place over the holidays. When this does not happen and January sets in, they may decide to file for divorce.

However, many people do not actively file for divorce immediately upon making that decision. Instead, they may take a month or two to get their affairs in order. This may contribute to the three-month increase in filings immediately following December.