About the same time each year that winter announces its arrival, the number of aspiring divorcees walking through the doors of Michales & Barbosa surges.
The annual migration of the matrimonially challenged starts around Thanksgiving, gains strength through the holidays, and is a full-blown phenomenon by the early weeks of the New Year.
"I've been practicing law and handling divorces for 17 years," says Beth Barbosa, a partner in the Eden Prairie law firm. "And it's always been like this. During the holidays, it can be stressful. Emotions tend to run high, and if there's been emotional crises building, it's a time when there seems to be a greater recognition of those ongoing problems. People get the point where they say, 'I'm done.'"
The number of those arriving at her office and wanting out can double in the months of November, December, and January. And the surge is hardly confined to Barbosa's firm. It's a worldwide trend.
According to a recent of study of 2,000 spouses conducted by Irwin Mitchell, one of the United Kingdom's largest law firms, one in five couples planned to celebrate the turning of the calendar by filing for divorce. The study concluded that January experienced the greatest increase, up by almost a third compared to average months.
"Over the holidays," says Barbosa, "people spend time with their spouse's families, going to family events, and somewhere in that time period they realize, 'I don't want to do this anymore with you, your family, any of it.' Then right before or after the New Year, it hits them: 'I don't want to spend another year with you.'"
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