The holidays are upon us once again. If you’ve been living with an unhappy marriage and thinking about filing for divorce, you may be dreading another holiday season, wondering if you can make it through another one with your spouse. Or perhaps you’re wondering if waiting till after the holidays would be better for your sanity and/or the enjoyment of extended family and, of course, the children.
There’s no right or wrong answer. Some people decide that waiting till the holidays pass is a better option, while others take the “why put it off any longer” approach. In any event, here are some things for you to think about as you contemplate the most appropriate time to file for divorce.
Divorce During the Holidays – Good or Bad Idea?
Option 1: Wait till January
Believe it or not, January is actually known as “Divorce Month”. There’s a noticeable spike in divorce filings in the month of January nationwide. We’re not exactly sure why, but we can make a few educated guesses:
- New Year = New Beginnings. The New Year is a time for making changes to better your life in the upcoming year. For people stuck in an unhappy marriage, what better time to forge ahead and file for divorce than the New Year.
- Financial Reasons. Another year is in the books, so January might seem like an appropriate time to file for divorce, especially for the person who likes things neat, tidy, organized and well documented.
- Tax Purposes. Similar to the financial reason above, your upcoming tax filings might be less complicated if you make a clean break at the start of the New Year.
Another reason to endure the holidays and wait until the New Year to file for divorce is because of the potential effect a separation (or announcement of impending separation) will have on the children, family, holiday traditions, trips planned, etc. Many parents don’t want to upset the children during what ought to be a joyful and exciting time of year. Even if you decide to divorce but hold off on the announcement until after the holidays, it’s possible that the holiday experience will nevertheless be impacted by the news in some way — whether it makes things more awkward or tense, or loved ones feel they have to walk on eggshells around you and/or your spouse, and so on.
Some attorneys and financial planners will advise you to wait to file if your spouse is going to receive a big bonus, or if your spouse’s company is about to go public (but obviously that only takes financial matters into consideration).
Option 2: Green Light — File Now
We’ve discussed some reasons to wait until after the holidays to file for divorce. But there are also some compelling reasons to go ahead and file before — or in the midst of — the holidays as well. For instance, if you simply cannot bear the thought of enduring another holiday season with your spouse (or your spouse’s family), and you know things will get worse the longer you put them off, now may be just as good a time to file as any.
Also, divorce takes time. Consider what your timeline is, and remember, some states have waiting periods before divorces can be finalized. Plus, the whole process of filing, waiting for your spouse to respond, setting a hearing, and finalizing the terms of a divorce just takes time. The average uncontested divorce in Florida takes about three months. The average contested divorce in Florida takes about 12 months.
Regardless of your circumstances, I hope you have a happy, healthy, and prosperous holiday season. If you have any questions about your personal situation and when is the best time for you to file for divorce, please call for a free consultation!