NEW YORK (MainStreet) When Janine Martinez's husband had not made dinner plans for Valentine's Day three days before the annual romantic holiday, the 43-year-old felt she was involved in a sub-standard marriage.
"My relationship just didn't look like what I see on television," said Martinez who began considering divorce. "I was reminded of the dysfunction in my marriage by all of the red and pink decorations in the retail stores and the candy hearts my children brought home from school."
When Martinez confronted her husband about Valentine's Day, she became convinced it was time to pull the plug.
"He didn't feel we needed to celebrate the holiday since we'd been married for seven years," Martinez told MainStreet.
Like Martinez, not every woman is expecting roses and chocolate on Valentine's Day. In some cases, Cupid's arrow strikes with thoughts of divorce not romance.
"Valentine's Day puts a lot of pressure on people to provide proof of their love for one another in one day," said Jennifer Brandt, a divorce attorney in Philadelphia. "In reality, the true test of a solid relationship are those small acts of kindness that occur on a daily basis and true communication."
About 67% of people searching for a divorce lawyer on the Internet in the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day are women, according to a new study by Avvo.com, which matches consumers with lawyers.
"Because Valentine's Day forces us to assess our romantic relationships, many people realize that they are not happy in the situation they are in and there is no possibility of it improving," Brandt told MainStreet. "Thus, they may turn toward divorce to get a fresh start."
Avvo.com found that the number of consumers seeking information about divorce on its website increases more than 40% from New Year's Day to Valentine's Day.
"For the last four years, we've consistently seen a large increase in the number of people searching for information on divorce around Valentine's Day," said Leigh McMillan, vice president of marketing with Avvo. "The spike is so consistent and so prominent to warrant calling it the Valentine's Effect."
Avvo further found that Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, Phoenix and Dallas lead the country in the number of people searching online for a divorce lawyer.
"These are big cities and thus there is a greater chance more folks will need a divorce lawyer," Brandt said.
Because the average cost of getting divorced in the U.S. is $15,000, Brandt recommends evaluating the ratings and credentials of divorce lawyers.
"After narrowing down the field of attorneys, it is always helpful to contact a few and get an understanding of their practice and whether you have a comfort level with them," said Brandt.
Avvo offers The Divorce Survival Guide, which 50% access from a mobile device, and the tongue-in-cheek legal guide How to Date a Lawyer.
"Attorneys are trained at negotiation and often litigation," Brandt said. "As such, it is hard to win an argument if you are not an attorney yourself when dating a lawyer."
--Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet