inlawsAs an Arizona State Bar Certified Specialist in family law matters in Arizona, I have repeatedly experienced the pattern of new divorce cases slowing down in November and December, only to surge forward again as the holidays come to an end.  After years of experiencing this pattern, I have sought to understand the people issues involved.

Generally the slowdown is attributable to parents not wanting to destroy Christmas memories, or wanting the children to have one last good Christmas together.  Even married couples without children may want to get through the holidays (peace on earth, etc.) before moving forward with a divorce.

Unfortunately, delaying divorce when the decision to divorce has already been made can lead to complicated situations, and often will exacerbate the situation.  Leaving two people in the same house, and adding in the stress of in-laws, parties (and often alcohol), and the stress of the holidays can often lead to explosive situations, sometimes involving the police.

Accordingly, in January, I often get many new clients who would have otherwise called in November or December except for the holidays, as well as a new crop of client’s who have included in their New Year’s Resolutions to be free from “that man” or “that woman” as soon as possible.

While the timing of filing for divorce is a highly individual and personal question, it is important to remember that involving an attorney early can save substantial headaches and difficulties in the future.  Even if a person does not intend to file their divorce until January, having a consult with an attorney in November or December will allow that person to obtain legal advice on how to protect themselves, their children, their finances, and how to avoid explosive domestic violence situations or allegations of abuse.

In some cases, it may be appropriate to file the divorce right away (even if the children are not told until after Santa Clause has come and gone) in order to protect assets, avoid issues of marital waste, or to avoid the other spouse obtaining a windfall.

If you are considering a divorce, and if you are concerned about the timing due to the holidays, I would nonetheless encourage you to schedule your first appointment.  Discuss with your attorney your concerns about the timing of your case during the holidays, as well as all other important aspects of your case.  Only when you have all of the facts can you make the most appropriate decision for your situation.

If you are involved in a divorce, legal separation, or annulment case or other family law case (or plan to be involved in such a case as soon as the holidays are over) and if you have determined that you need experienced legal representation, please call 800-899-2730 and ask to speak with Douglas C. Gardner, or visit our website at