A Chicago lawyer speculates that troubled couples are often forced over the edge by the Holidays:
There are three main reasons I can think of:
1. Family time. Holiday celebrations can be good, or bad, depending on the family. What is meant to be enjoyable time with family can quickly become a time of stress, fighting and failed expectations. For many people, holidays also involve partying. This atmosphere can result in the perfect storm, bringing problems to the surface, not to mention lots of drama.
2. Self reflection. Holidays are a break from the daily grind. With a change in routine, there is time to stop and evaluate things. It can make you realize your relationships aren’t what they used to be, or what you want them to be. It’s a time when many people decide to make a fresh start.
3. The deadline. Often, a holiday is used as a deadline for making a major decision, such as whether to divorce. Maybe you promised yourself that you would stick things out until the end of the year, or give it one last try for the holidays. The deadline comes and goes, and people end up filing for divorce shortly after a holiday.
I’ve seen a few cases in which the parties separated just after Christmas or New Year’s, but no more than any other time of year. Custody and access disputes, on the other hand, tend to heat up in November and December, as parents wrangle over who will get the children for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. In most cases, Christmas Eve and Christmas morning (and other major holidays, such as Easter and Halloween night) are alternated between the parties from year to year.
If your holiday access schedule has not been worked out: make arrangements to speak to a lawyer immediately, while there’s still a (slim) chance you might be able to get the matter called in court before Christmas Eve. (For 2011, if trouble is brewing, see a lawyer around Labour Day.) Every family lawyer has, at least once, been called by a desperate parent around December 21.