Why is January the Biggest Month for Divorce?
Most family law attorneys will tell you that January is usually the busiest month of the year for divorces. Many spouses decide sometime in the latter part of the year that their marriage is over, and they want a divorce – but they often hold off on filing until the New Year. There are a lot of reasons why this tends to happen:
- Holidays: The spouse who wants the divorce will often decide that there is no sense in upsetting things during the holiday season. This is especially true when the couple has children. For the sake of preserving holiday memories, they choose to wait until January to initiate the divorce. The holidays can also be a catalyst for a divorce as some spouses who are considering going this route finalize their decision after an unpleasant holiday.
- Taxes: Spouses might also wait until January to file over concerns about taxes. By waiting until the New Year, they do not have to deal with the tax implications of the divorce until April of the following year. This gives them more time to prepare for any tax changes that will occur because of the divorce.
- New Year’s Resolutions: For many people, the end of the year is a time of reflection and a time to consider positive changes that they want to make in the New Year. For an unhappy spouse, this could very well mean dissolving a failed marriage and obtaining a fresh start.
If you have decided that divorcing is one of your New Year’s resolutions, it is important to be prepared for the process. Even if you have thought everything through and come to the realization that this is the best option for everyone involved, it is still going to be a major change that could cause a lot of stress at least in the short term. But with careful planning, you can help ensure that the divorce process goes more smoothly.
Here are six important things you should do to prepare for your New Year’s divorce:
Assemble Your Support Team
A divorce is not something you should have to do all by yourself. You need other people to support you and help get you through this trying season of your life. You will want to rely on trusted family members and friends (those who you are certain have your best interests at heart) for your emotional support. It is also helpful to have a spiritual counselor – perhaps one of the leaders from your place of worship. And you might want to consider joining a support group of others who have gone through what you are about to go through.
On the financial side of things, it is a good idea to seek out an experienced financial planner if you do not already have one. Divorces tend to put a major financial strain on spouses, because you will now be supporting two households on the same overall income. A financial planner who has experience with these situations can help you come up with a plan to live within your means on less income than you were previously accustomed to.
Finally, you will need a reputable divorce attorney to represent you in the legal proceeding and help protect your rights and interests. A good attorney will have extensive knowledge about the legal aspects of divorce cases, and they be willing to take the time to thoroughly understand your unique needs and concerns and what you want to get out of the proceeding. With a trusted attorney in your corner, you can rest easy knowing that the legal part of your divorce is in good hands.
Gather Your Legal and Financial Documents
During the divorce proceeding, you will need to disclose all of your financial information. For this reason, one of the first things your attorney will ask is to organize all of your important documents. These may include bank accounts, retirement accounts, credit card information, W-2s and 1099s, tax returns, insurance policies, estate planning documents (e.g., wills, trusts, advance health care directives, etc.), and any documents related to a business you may own or co-owned with your spouse (e.g., registrations, receipts, and payroll information). Be sure to update your insurance policies and estate planning documents in light of the divorce as well.
Take Inventory of Your Personal Property
A major part of the divorce that is often a point of contention is the equitable division of marital property. So, an important step in the preparation process is to take a full inventory of your assets and personal property. This may include the marital home, other real estate properties you own, vehicles, machinery, household items, personal items, and pets. As you put together your inventory, think about which property you really want to keep and what you are willing to part with. Knowing this will help your attorney negotiate a settlement that you are more likely to be happy with.
Consider Where You Will Live
The decision on where to live when you separate is one of the most important that you will make. In most cases, once the divorce is filed, someone will need to move out of the marital home. Is that going to be you or your spouse? This of course will depend on many of the specific circumstances, such as who the kids are going to live with. If you are planning to move out but have not found a place yet, it would be a good idea to rent a PO Box and have your mail forwarded there so it is secure.
Separate Your Finances
Since you are going to be physically separated, you will want to have separate finances as well. If you do not already have one, open a bank account in your name only where you can deposit your income. You should also close any joint credit accounts and get at least one credit card that is solely in your name. Depending on your relationship with your spouse, keeping joint credit accounts open could tempt them to become vindictive and run up charges that both of you would be responsible for.
Take Care of Yourself
Divorce is an emotionally stressful time, and while this process is ongoing, it is important to make sure that you are taking care of yourself along with everything else you are trying to accomplish. Take time for yourself and allow yourself to grieve if that is what you need to begin the healing process.
It is also helpful to keep your dealings with your soon-to-be ex-spouse civil. Though you may have many just reasons to be angry with your spouse, going to war with them never solves anything, it just keeps reopening old wounds. Try to move beyond the past hurts and pain and focus on the positive aspects of the new life you want to create after your divorce.
Speak with an Experienced Virginia Divorce Lawyer
If your New Year’s resolution is to get divorced and you live in Virginia, Buck, Toscano & Terezkerz is here to help. Call our Charlottesville, VA office today at (434) 977-7977 or message us online for a free initial consultation with one of our skilled and compassionate divorce attorneys.