January is 'divorce month' — a lawyer breaks down the top signs a marriage is about to dissolve

It's divorce season.

The antithesis to December's engagement season, divorce filings begin to spike in January, peaking in February and March.

But it's not the gloomy weather that does couples in. It's the post-holiday jolt back to reality that has them questioning their future together.

"What I find is that most people in December want to get through the holidays. Nobody wants a divorce summons put into their stocking," Jacqueline Newman, a managing partner at a top New York City divorce law firm, told Business Insider.

But once the holiday glow has waned and spouses settle back into old habits, many people flock to Newman's office to get a better idea of what a divorce would look like. She calls it "keeping your options open" month.

Related: States with big divorce rates

26 PHOTOS
Divorce states
See Gallery
Divorce states

#25. Wichita, Kansas

Percent Divorced in 1970:  5.19
Percent Divorced in 2010: 13.39
Percent Change Between 1970 and 2010: 157.69

(Getty)

#24. Baltimore, Maryland

Percent Divorced in 1970: 4.06
Percent Divorced in 2010: 10.6
Percent Change Between 1970 and 2010: 158.54

(Corbis)

#23. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Percent Divorced in 1970: 3.64
Percent Divorced in 2010: 9.58
Percent Change Between 1970 and 2010: 166.67

(Getty)

#22. Albuquerque, New Mexico

Percent Divorced in 1970: 5.12
Percent Divorced in 2010: 13.75
Percent Change Between 1970 and 2010: 170.59

(Getty)

#21. New Orleans, Louisiana

Percent Divorced in 1970: 4.28
Percent Divorced in 2010: 11.67
Percent Change Between 1970 and 2010: 172.09

(Getty)

#20. Fort Wayne, Indiana

Percent Divorced in 1970: 4.8
Percent Divorced in 2010: 13.08
Percent Change Between 1970 and 2010: 172.92

(Getty)

#19. New York City, New York

Percent Divorced in 1970: 2.81
Percent Divorced in 2010: 7.83
Percent Change Between 1970 and 2010: 178.57

(Alamy)

#18. El Paso, Texas

Percent Divorced in 1970: 3.67
Percent Divorced in 2010: 10.5
Percent Change Between 1970 and 2010: 183.78

(Getty)

#17. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Percent Divorced in 1970: 3.01
Percent Divorced in 2010: 8.72
Percent Change Between 1970 and 2010: 190

(Rudolf Balasko)

#16. Newark, New Jersey

Percent Divorced in 1970: 2.89
Percent Divorced in 2010: 8.53
Percent Change Between 1970 and 2010: 193.1

(Getty)

#15. Toledo, Ohio

Percent Divorced in 1970: 4.88
Percent Divorced in 2010: 14.43
Percent Change Between 1970 and 2010: 193.88

(David Liu)

#14. Memphis, Tennessee

Percent Divorced in 1970: 4.05
Percent Divorced in 2010: 12.32
Percent Change Between 1970 and 2010: 200

(Getty)

#13. Mesa, Arizona

Percent Divorced in 1970: 3.76
Percent Divorced in 2010: 11.53
Percent Change Between 1970 and 2010: 202.63

(Getty)

#12. Arlington, Texas

Percent Divorced in 1970: 3.64
Percent Divorced in 2010: 10.89
Percent Change Between 1970 and 2010: 202.78

(Getty)

#11. Aurora, Colorado

Percent Divorced in 1970: 4.02
Percent Divorced in 2010: 12.22
Percent Change Between 1970 and 2010: 205

(Getty)

#10. Raleigh, North Carolina

Percent Divorced in 1970: 3.23
Percent Divorced in 2010: 9.76
Percent Change Between 1970 and 2010: 206.25

(Getty)

#9. Charlotte, North Carolina

Percent Divorced in 1970: 3.28
Percent Divorced in 2010: 10.18
Percent Change Between 1970 and 2010: 209.09

(Getty)

#8. Tucson, Arizona

Percent Divorced in 1970: 4.5
Percent Divorced in 2010: 14.09
Percent Change Between 1970 and 2010: 213.33

(Getty)

#7. Lincoln, Nebraska

Percent Divorced in 1970: 3.38
Percent Divorced in 2010: 10.75
Percent Change Between 1970 and 2010: 214.71

(Getty)

#6. Colorado Springs, Colorado

Percent Divorced in 1970: 3.95
Percent Divorced in 2010: 13.01
Percent Change Between 1970 and 2010: 233.33

(Getty)

#5. Corpus Christi, Texas

Percent Divorced in 1970: 3.85
Percent Divorced in 2010: 12.91
Percent Change Between 1970 and 2010: 239.47

(Getty)

#4. Greensboro, North Carolina

Percent Divorced in 1970: 3.02
Percent Divorced in 2010: 10.83
Percent Change Between 1970 and 2010: 260

(Getty)

#3. Plano, Texas

Percent Divorced in 1970: 2.59
Percent Divorced in 2010: 9.43
Percent Change Between 1970 and 2010: 261.54

(Shutterstock)

#2. Buffalo, New York

Percent Divorced in 1970: 2.99
Percent Divorced in 2010: 11.42
Percent Change Between 1970 and 2010: 280

(Getty)

#1. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Percent Divorced in 1970: 2.21
Percent Divorced in 2010: 10.74
Percent Change Between 1970 and 2010: 386.36

(Shutterstock)
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"They want to be able to be in a position to make an educated decision," Newman says. "They come in and they say, 'What would happen with my kids? What would it look like financially?' It's the information-gathering stage."

From there, clients are able to digest the practical sides of a split, and many return in February and March ready to commit to the decision. But not every person who consults an attorney ends up actually filing for divorce.

"One of the first questions I ask clients is, 'Are you sure you want to get divorced?'" Newman says. "Because I suggest trying everything you can before you come into my office because you never want to look back. Divorce is financially expensive, emotionally expensive, and you have to make sure that this is exactly the choice that you want to make."

Though the numbers look different for every couple, divorce typically costs between $15,000 and $20,000 — not too far away from the $32,000 price tag of the average wedding.

So how can you tell if you and your partner are on the precipice of a permanent split?

While there are no hard and fast rules — by no means do any of these indicators guarantee you're destined for divorce — there are a few signs that could indicate you're in troubled waters:

5 PHOTOS
Signs your marriage is ending
See Gallery
Signs your marriage is ending
Shot of a young woman looking upset after a fight with her husband who is standing in the background
Interracial couple having fight on the street
African American couple having relationship difficulties at home.

Bottom line

Divorce isn't a decision to be taken lightly. It's important to think through the practical aspects of it and not jump into any decisions purely out of emotion.

"As much as you feel like someone's not contributing to your marriage, there's an element of them contributing," Newman says. "Not to say that that's enough that you should stay married, but you have to really weigh in what it's going to look like."

Newman recommends therapy and counseling to any couple considering a divorce — not only is it cheaper, but it can potentially spare you the emotional cost as well. 

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