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Flowers, chocolate—and divorce papers? Turns out that the period immediately following Valentine’s Day is a popular time for married couples to call it quits.
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One recent study suggested divorce filings rose by as much as 40 percent right after the holiday, while anecdotal evidence collected by Yahoo! Shine from divorce lawyers painted Valentine’s Day as time of reckoning more than romance.
“People think Valentine’s Day is the day they’re going to fix it all, that they’re going to make everything okay in their marriage. Then, when they can’t? It’s time to file,” Chicago divorce attorney Marie Fahnert told Yahoo! Shine.
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“They start consulting in January. Then they say, ‘Let’s see how Valentine’s Day goes,’” Steve Mandell, a New York divorce lawyer with the Mandell Law Firm, told Shine. “If their spouse comes through okay, fine. If they get, like, a two-dollar box of chocolate? Check, please!”
Couples, in other words, want to give it one last shot by seeing if their marriage can be rekindled by the most romantic day of the year.
Avvo, the free legal referral site, announced in 2011 that the number of inquiries and referral requests it receives skyrockets right after Valentine’s Day each year, and said many of its lawyers reported a rise in filings. “Over the past two years we’ve seen an average increase of 40 percent in the number of requests for divorce lawyers around Valentine’s Day, compared to the previous six months,” Mark Britton, founder and CEO of Avvo, said at the time. “Furthermore, the number of questions about divorce soared 36 percent during that same time.”
In Michigan this week, people were clamoring for a free divorce from Southfield divorce lawyer Walter Bentley after he made the national news by announcing he’d gift a $3,000 uncontested divorce, on Valentine’s Day, to the person who could write the most compelling plea. Bentley told Yahoo! Shine he was surprised to receive nearly 600 entries in less than a week. His website announced two winners on the 14th: Debi Cloonan, who had a civil separation with her husband after the death of a son drew them apart, and Tara Fleek, who was on good terms with her husband but ready to split but simply could not afford it, and were about to file bankruptcy.
But Valentine's Day splits are not always so peaceful. Cary Cheifetz, a divorce attorney in New Jersey with Ceconi & Cheifetz, told Yahoo! Shine that, in addition to seeing rising divorce rates post-V-day, there's been another, more pointed development. “I’ve noticed Valentine’s Day becoming a Trojan horse for all sort of other agendas,” he said. “I’ve had a number of clients suggest I put their divorce through on Valentine’s Day, and I’ve also noticed a bunch of lawyers scheduling depositions for Valentine’s Day. It’s like one spouse wants to twist the knife just a little bit more.”
Finally, in New York, divorce attorney Jacqueline Newman, managing partner of Berkman, Bottger, Newman & Rodd, told Shine about yet another post-V-Day trend. “After Valentine’s Day, I find that prenups are harder to negotiate,” she said. “I guess if somebody didn’t do what the other spouse wanted for the holiday, maybe they ask the question: ‘Do they really love me?’”