It seems at times that divorce in Minnesota ebbs and flows and there may be merit to this observation because a University of Washington study conducted by its sociology department shows results that back it up.

The study shows that there is a seasonal, biannual pattern to divorce filings. The data was taken between 2001 and 2015 and it was found that divorces peaked in March and August, which are the months following winter and summer. This data covers Minnesota and the country as a whole.

The results of the study are going to be presented at the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting. At the meeting, they will present the evidence that suggests divorce filings may be driven by family behavior and that a “domestic ritual” may be behind it.

Winter and summer are filled with holidays that have cultural significance to families. This can make filing for divorce too taboo during those periods. In fact, it could be considered “inappropriate” to file divorce during which would be considered a happy time. For summer months, the holidays include Independence Day and family vacations. In winter, Thanksgiving and Christmas would be considered the periods too inappropriate to file for divorce.

In all reality, there are couples filing for divorce year round.

People also tend to approach these holidays with high expectations that the current year will be different than the last. Disappointments can fuel decisions to file for divorce. The new beginning that was being sought never materialized. It’s like a cycle of optimism.

Another factor that is believed to come into play is that holidays can be highly stressful on families. The fissures in a marriage can be exposed during that stressful period. When holidays and other events don’t live up to expectations because of those fissures, it can become painfully obvious to a couple that something is wrong and divorce becomes their solution.

As for why March is the month after the winter when divorces spike, it is believed in the study that it is due to couples needing to get finances in order. Many are focused on tax filings and starting a new year financially. When March comes around and ducks are in a row, divorce becomes a more doable option. The days are also longer in spring and the longer days can encourage people to get things done and take action in the areas of their lives that they feel need work.

The sociologists that conducted the study weren’t necessarily looking for divorce patterns, but the effects that the recession had on people. They did find that the divorce pattern shifted during the recession, showing that divorces peaked earlier in the year and that divorces had more volatility than usual. Unemployment, housing situations, and overall financial distress are believed to be a contributor to this result. For Minnesota, the recession aspect of the study doesn’t hold as much weight since the state was not as harshly impacted as others.