Divorce filings typically increase immediately after the winter holidays so much that January is often referred to as “divorce month” in legal circles. Yet, if January is considered a time for positive resolutions, why do so many spouses choose to start the new year by filing for divorce? Readers may be surprised to learn just why January is the right time for so many spouses to leave their marriage.
Holiday Stress: Financial pressure, time spent with in-laws, and the current pandemic all made the recent holiday season a stressful time of year. For couples with underlying issues, the holidays may be the final straw and the impetus for making divorce a new year’s resolution.
Considering the Children: Many married couples who already discussed divorce opt to wait until after the holidays for the children. Parents often choose to grin and bear it for the last few weeks of the year, spending one final holiday as a family before filing for divorce in the new year.
Fresh Start: January is the time to let go of what is not working and make changes for a better year to come. Spouses in an unhappy relationship may see the start of the new year as the ideal time to divorce. Knowing the process can take several months, individuals may want to start as soon as possible so they will not be saddled with a dysfunctional relationship too far into the year head.
Marital Assets: Marital assets are considered anything acquired by a couple during the marriage, which includes certain bank accounts, family heirlooms, vehicles, and property. When the marriage ends, these assets are divided between both spouses based on equitable distribution. While the name seems to imply a 50/50 split, that is not actually the case. Equitable distribution refers to a fair and just allotment of assets based on different factors, such as how each spouse contributed to the assets, and how they cared for those assets during the union. It is also common for some individuals to receive employment bonuses and other assets at the end of the calendar year. Spouses may wait to divorce until the year is over so they can receive a portion of these end-of-year marital assets.
Tax Implications: Taxes are a practical incentive for couples to postpone a divorce until the new year. For one, the government views the tax year as starting in January. Filing in the new year makes the process simpler and more straightforward. Additionally, it can be fiscally beneficial to file as a couple, even if the marriage is ending. If a couple waits until at least January 1, they can file jointly.
In addition to meeting with a lawyer, it makes sense for individuals considering divorce to make an appointment with a trusted financial advisor to learn more about the implications of getting a divorce at different times of the year.
What are Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey?
In the Garden State, couples are granted divorce based on certain grounds. Considering irreconcilable differences, neither spouse bears particular fault for the demise of the marriage. In other words, it is a no-fault divorce. Even if a couple opts for no-fault divorce, that does not mean they necessarily agree on all of the family matters that come up in a divorce. Details of child custody, alimony, and property division all need to be settled through mediation or in family court at some point.
For other spouses, far more damaging behavior plays a role in the breakup. Grounds for fault-based divorces in New Jersey include:
- Alcohol/drug abuse
- Extreme cruelty
- Deviant sexual conduct
A person who files for fault-based divorce has to prove their spouse’s conduct and it is admissible in court. It can influence the outcome of a host of divorce-related matters, including alimony and child custody. False allegations used to smear another’s reputation are not taken lightly and can backfire in court.
How can I Start the Divorce Process in New Jersey?
For those looking to end their marriage in the new year, the first step is to file a Complaint for Divorce, which contains a few crucial pieces of information, including requests for divorce, child custody, and child support. In New Jersey, either spouse must be a resident of the state for at least one year before filing. The only exception is when adultery is involved; in that case, either spouse must be a resident of New Jersey for any period of time prior to filing. Anyone considering divorce should start with a call to a trusted divorce lawyer, who will verify if their client is eligible to file in New Jersey, file the initial Complaint, and recommend the next best steps based on their individual situation and future goals. Divorce in the Garden State can take one of three general paths:
Collaborative Divorce: A collaborative divorce is for amicable couples able to work out most of the terms of divorce on their own, but who still want legal protection. Lawyers assist parties in four-way meetings to achieve a win-win scenario where each spouse is satisfied with the terms.
Mediation: Mediation involves the use of an objective party to help both parties come to an agreement regarding property division and other divorce matters before it goes to court. It is preferable for many couples because it is confidential and saves time and money associated with litigation.
Is Mediation Right for Me?
For couples open to compromise, mediation may be an ideal way to navigate a divorce. Ask the following questions to determine if mediation is an option. If the answer is yes to most or all, it may be possible to settle divorce out of court.
- Can I be objective about what is best for every member of the family?
- Do I feel empowered and equipped to make major decisions about my future?
- Do I fully grasp the legal and financial choices and ramifications related to the divorce?
- Do I feel comfortable and safe speaking up for myself and my children in front of my spouse and their attorney?
However, there are times when mediation does not work. For those couples, litigation is necessary. Litigation is the method of resolving divorce disputes in court. It is common when one party is being unreasonable or when issues outside the normal scope of divorce come up and need to be resolved. Whichever route one chooses to take to reach a divorce, it is important to choose legal counsel who can advocate for their rights every step of the way.
Morristown Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Clients Navigate the Divorce Process
Whether you chose to collaborate, mediate, or go to court, contact a Morristown divorce lawyer at Lyons & Associates, P.C. We handle all of your pressing divorce disputes, including matters of alimony, child custody, and property division. To learn more about our services or to schedule an initial consultation, call 908-575-9777 or contact us online. Located in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Rockaway, Parsippany, Madison, Chatham, Morris Plains, and Randolph.