British Columbia

January is a popular time to get divorced, therapists say

Most couples tend to stick it out through the holidays before deciding to call it quits in the new year. But one 'celebrant' says the breakup doesn't have to be messy.

Families generally stick it out through the holidays only to call it quits in the new year

Many couples postpone their divorce so they can make it through the holidays without hurting their children. (Shutterstock/auremar)

For many people, January is a new beginning — a time to toss away all the baggage of yesteryear and wipe the slate clean.

Consequently, for many divorce lawyers and family therapists, it's the busiest month of the year.

According to psychologist and divorce specialist Susan Gamache, January is 'divorce month' — a peak time of the year when many married couples in troubled relationships choose to call it quits.

"People try to keep it together through the holidays," she told host Gloria Macarenko on CBC's BC Almanac. "Nobody wants to have their children's Christmas remembered as the time their parents announced a separation."

The term 'divorce month' has taken on it's own life in legal circles, due to the surge in breakups. Gamache says it's a time when divorce filings start getting made, and appointments to family therapists are booked.

While divorces can be messy, Garmache says its important to stay educated and informed as to how to make them run smoothly. And if there's children involved, she has one key piece of advice: keep them in the centre.

"The children aren't divorcing anybody, and this is still going to be their family going forward."

Divorce ceremonies

The current divorce rate in Canada hovers above 45 per cent, according to Garmache. And while breakups are inherently ugly, one woman says divorces can be beautiful.

Barbara Densmore is a contemporary minister and celebrant from Nanaimo. She officiates weddings and memorials but also offers a more peculiar service: divorce ceremonies.

"Divorce is basically the only major life transition for which we have no ritual — we don't really know what to do," she said.

Unlike marriage, which is marked by both ceremonies and document filing, she says divorce is marred by longevity, which often includes numerous conversations, paperwork, and court appearances.

Barbara Densmore is a celebrant and contemporary minister. (Barbara Densmore)

She says the whole process can be stressful, and lack closure.

"A lot of the people I'm working with are finding that they need to do something intentional to be able to process what's happening, and try to keep grounded going through ... and any form of ceremony can help with that."

She refers to it as a dignified farewell, where couples undo their vows, make a commitment to their children and wave a formal goodbye to one another.

"In a perfect setting, a divorce ceremony would be an un-wedding ceremony."

With files from CBC's BC Almanac

To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: January is a popular time to get divorced, therapists say