January has started to become known as “divorce month.” Families that have decided to stay together through the holiday period for the sake of appearances, for their children, or try to one last holiday together, usually last until New Year’s Eve and then file.
Right after the holidays and occasionally just before the New Year, there tends to be an increase in divorce filings. This is not unique to the U.S. either; the British law firm of Irwin Mitchell did a survey of 2,000 spouses and found that in the U.K. 1 in 5 couples plan to divorce after holidays, rather than before.
Filing for divorce at this time makes sense for a few different reasons. On a practical note, if you file right before the holidays you are then faced with office and court closures. Attorneys, judges, accountants and even clients might be on vacation.
By the end of the year most financial documents have been prepared, so by the beginning of the following year it is much easier to obtain accurate information. This allows the parties to have a better idea of their respective financial situations. Exact numbers regarding wages, year-end income, investment income, etc. are all relevant when calculating spousal support, child support, and dividing assets and debts.
The start of a new year can be a good time to establish a new custody and visitation order. Since the holidays have passed there is no need to rush to an agreed upon schedule for the next year’s holidays. Additionally, there is still time to determine a summer break schedule, travel plans and whether there will be any changes in schools for the upcoming year. Since hearings are set out usually about a month in advance, if not longer, it is important to start planning and begin the custody and visitation schedule as soon as parents know they are separating.
If there is property at issue, January tends to be a good month to start making improvements on the house, staging the home and meeting with real estate agents. That way as the real estate market picks up in Spring, the house will be ready for sale. Parents usually want their children to remain in the family residence through the end of the school year and by starting to prepare now, it allows for that to be possible.
Finally, a new year hopefully brings a new perspective and fresh outlook. The decision to divorce is not easy, but once the process has started, the parties should seek some comfort in knowing there is a new future ahead of them.