'Valentine's Effect' Predicts Wave of February Divorces

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LegalMatch Backs Valentine's Divorce Trend with Five Years of Statistics

The phrase "Valentine's Effect" first came into the public consciousness in 2006, when LegalMatch and Forbes.com attempted to explain the statistically significant increase in divorce cases during the two weeks prior to and following our national lover's holiday: Valentine's Day. Now, new data from 2007 shows a rise in divorce cases during that same February period, sustaining a nearly 28 percent average increase over the last five years.

2003 was the first year in which a marked increase in divorce cases were registered in the LegalMatch database. At that time, February brought a 34 percent increase in divorce filings through LegalMatch.com. 2004 and 2005 held things steady with 28 percent and 36 percent respective increases. 2006, likewise, held to the standard with a 26 percent overall increase in divorce cases filed. And, in the trend of previous years, 2008 promises a February full of romantic dissolutions.

It is uncertain exactly why this spike occurs in February, but past research has suggested that much of it has to do with stress about romantic fulfillment. "When it gets near Valentine's Day, people start to realize what it was supposed to be like," says divorce attorney Richard Paris, "They remember what it was like to be loved." The San Rafael, CA lawyer has also noticed a regular rise in family law cases and consultations in February, attributing much of it to the stress of the romantic holiday.

LegalMatch Associate General Counsel, Ken LaMance, also supports the Valentine's theory. "We have seen an increase every year around Valentine's Day," he says, "Both domestic violence and divorce cases tend to rise around that time, and it seems logical to blame it on romantic tension. A lot of expectations are high, emotions are running high -- it's a recipe for heartbreak."

Still other researchers theorize that Valentine's Day is more of a secondary catalyst, triggering a second wave of those domestic violence and divorce cases that emerge after the pressure-packed month of December. The Daily Breeze cited lawyer Jeffrey Lalloway in last year's article, "Be My Ex-Valentine," as saying: "Christmas creates a lot of pressure to have a good time. These are pressure situations, and it's rare that people come through these pressure times stronger."

But regardless of the impetus behind it, the Valentine's Effect is real. And with numbers continuing to support the February phenomenon, it may be wise to pay extra special attention to your lover in these critical and upcoming weeks. What can you do to make sure your relationship holds together? Richard Paris says: "Communicate."

"Communication with each other is important at any time of the year," Paris explains, "You need to have a relationship where you feel safe -- where you can express how you might be dissatisfied, how you're feeling, without being afraid. When people can't do that -- that's when they call an attorney."

For past articles on the Valentine's Effect, please visit LegalMatch's comprehensive news archive.

About LegalMatch
LegalMatch (http://www.LegalMatch.com) is an online legal matching service that makes it easy to find a lawyer. Headquartered in San Francisco with offices in Los Angeles and Austin, LegalMatch helps attorneys nationwide build and grow their law practice. LegalMatch pioneered the online legal matching industry in 1999; the service is free to consumers and available in all 50 states. For more information on LegalMatch, contact Anna Ostrovsky at (415) 946-0898.

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Anna Ostrovsky
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