The holidays are a time for coming together with family and friends, celebrating cherished traditions, and making memories. But for some spouses, this holiday season will be the last they spend together as a married couple. Are you wondering if you should move forward with your divorce or wait until after the holidays?
This discussion will weigh the advantages and disadvantages to help you make an informed decision for your family and your future.
January Is Considered Divorce Month
In legal circles, January has long been considered the month for divorce because so many married people wait until right after the holidays to start the divorce process, while most divorces are filed in March.
If the couple meets with their respective lawyers at the start of the year and take a few weeks to get their documents in order and file the appropriate paperwork, that gap makes sense.
Common Reasons Why Couples Put Off Divorce Until after the Holidays
If you ask couples why they waited until the new year to divorce, you will get a variety of responses. Here are some of the common reasons couples postpone divorce until after the holidays.
To preserve family peace. Holidays are often spent enjoying the company of family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. News of a divorce can put a damper on that holiday joy. Some couples wait because they do not want to disrupt the family peace during what many consider the most festive time of year. Although their intentions are certainly good, it may be quite stressful for couples who do not get along to tolerate each other at dinners, parties, and religious ceremonies.
To give the children one last family holiday. Couples with children may see the holidays as one last time to spend them together as a family unit before their lives are changed forever. Again, parents certainly have their children’s best interests in mind, but they should be careful they are not sending giving children false hope that their troubled marriage is on the mend.
It may be more difficult for kids to process divorce if they are under the false assumption that everything is fine and their parents are happy. If you are unsure about how to talk to your children about marital issues, make an appointment with a family therapist to learn age-appropriate ways to discuss these topics at home.
Too busy to handle the divorce details. Sometimes couples wait to divorce because it is just practical. The holiday season is the most hectic time of the year for some families. Between baking, shopping, decorating, and hosting, free time is hard to come by. Some married people decide they just do not want to add another thing to their to-do list, opting to wait a few more weeks to file for divorce.
Do not want to associate the holidays with divorce. People who are especially sentimental about the holidays wait to divorce because they do not want to associate this special time with the pain of divorce going forward. They would rather wait it out than have their holiday season forever remind them of when they filed for divorce.
Wait until January for financial reasons. In addition to the emotional and legal implications of divorce, the end of a marriage has a significant impact on a couple’s finances. That is especially true for high asset marriages with significant and complex personal wealth. A spouse might wait to file because they can benefit from their partner’s end-of-year bonus or commission.
Another reason is to make strategic moves to benefit tax-wise. Generally, if a couple is married for even a single day of the new year, they can file taxes jointly as a married couple. That can ease their tax burden for the year, while giving them time to find their financial footing as single people.
To see the new year as a fresh start. Sometimes, the reason a couple waits until January to divorce is purely symbolic. January represents a fresh start and a time to release the old and welcome in new beginnings. Saying goodbye to a troubled marriage and starting a new life can be the ultimate New Year’s resolution.
To give the marriage one more chance. More ambivalent couples may not be ready to give up until they give the marriage one more chance. For them, the holidays are the last-ditch effort to rekindle the union and keep the family together. They hope that happier times will remind them of why they first fell in love and inspire them to keep working on the marriage.
Why You May Not Want to Postpone Divorce
Although all these reasons may make sense for couples considering divorce, delaying the inevitable can also be emotionally taxing for everyone involved. If you have a high-conflict relationship, or the home environment is especially toxic, waiting may not be the best choice.
In a marriage in which there is emotional, verbal, or physical abuse, it is best to part ways as safely and as quickly as possible. If this is your experience and you are concerned about the safety of you or your children, contact law enforcement and consult a lawyer. They can assist you in filing an Order of Protection in your state.
Steps to Take Now if You Plan to Divorce after the Holidays
If you are not in danger and you have decided to wait until the holidays have passed to start the divorce process, there are things you can do now to help the process go smoothly in the new year.
Get finances in order. Take time to gather all your financial documents, including taxes, pay stubs, bank accounts, and investments. Make copies of everything. Whether you go through mediation or handle your divorce in court, you will be required to disclose all your assets, debts, and liabilities.
Get counseling. Counseling during a tough time such as a divorce can be incredibly beneficial. Preemptive therapy can teach you coping skills and provide support as you navigate the end of your marriage. Look for a family therapist specializing in clients going through divorce. Many therapists are currently offering telemedicine, so you can meet with them from the comfort of your home.
Invest in your career. As you approach divorce, it is a good time to make your career a top priority. If you have not worked during the marriage, considering enrolling in education or job training. Making yourself more employable and increasing your income will only benefit you post-divorce.
Women especially take a big financial hit during divorce. According to research on the subject, one in five women fall into poverty after divorce. Many lose their health insurance for a time, and some with child support orders do not receive their full payments.
Good legal representation and a firm divorce agreement can help prevent these issues and help clients come through divorce in good financial standing. Growing your career and earning potential is a huge step in the right direction.
Contact a lawyer. Choosing a lawyer is one of the most important decisions you will make during divorce. Ask family and friends for their recommendations and check online reviews from past or current clients. Divorce lawyers typically offer free consultations so you can meet with them and see if they are a good fit at no cost to you.
Although this discussion has provided some information, ultimately, when you choose to divorce is a highly personal decision. A consultation with an experienced divorce lawyer is a good way to get some insight on your individual situation.
Somerville Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C., Help Clients Navigate the Divorce Process from Start to Finish
Divorce is never easy, no matter when it happens. However, the Somerville divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C., are here to make the process go as smoothly as possible. We advocate for you every step of the way to help you come out on the other side ready for the next chapter of life. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us at 908-575-9777 or contact us online. Located in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients in Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.