If you've been considering divorce, you may have heard January referred to as "Divorce Month" and wondered how much truth is in the designation. While peak divorce filings usually occur in March, divorce lawyerscommonly report a marked increase in inquiries about divorce in January. Some attorneys even see a rise of as much as 25-30 percent. Supporting anecdotal reports of a January surge, a Google Trend search of "divorce lawyer" shows that January and July have been a peak for the search termfor the past five years.
What's going on?
People Want a Peaceful Holiday Season
Divorce might be on many people's minds long before January, but most people prefer to wait until the holidays are over before taking any definitive steps forward. Even if unhappily married, it's easy to get caught up in the expectations and excitement of the season and put aside negativefeelings for the sake of the children or other family members. Indeed, Google Trends consistently shows a dip in the search term "divorce lawyer" in November and December. But once the holiday season is over, the perceived necessity to put on a happy front falls away.
The Holiday Season Was Too Stressful
Sometimes the marriage's unhappiness is greatly increased during the holiday season. The expectation of being joyful, straining to put on a good face before family members, disputes over gift buying, and financial stress can make some people realize that they can no longer maintain a façade of a happy marriage. By the time January rolls around, they feel more confident that divorce is the right step.
New Year, New Beginning
The fresh start that January brings is another logical reason behind the jump in calls to divorce lawyers. Investigating and weighing one's options may be at the top of the New Year's Resolution list of many an unhappily married person. Even if you don't file for divorce until later in the year–if you file at all–January is a natural starting point to begin collecting information about separation and divorce and seriously examining your situation and feelings on the matter.
Tax and Financial Benefits
For practical-minded people who have been contemplating divorce for a while, a better tax or financial situation might drive their pursuit of a divorce in January. For example, if a spouse receives an end-of-year bonus, the law considers that money marital property as long as it is received before either spouse files for divorce. If one person usually gets abonus in December, it would make more financial sense for the other spouse to wait until January to file for divorce.
Concerning taxes, under certain circumstances, waiting until January to file for divorce might reduce one's tax burden. You should speak with a divorce lawyer or tax professional to see if such circumstances apply to your situation.
Should You Consider Divorce this January?
If you've been on the fence about divorce, January might be the right time to decide seriously whether this is the path for you. Before you take an extreme step, consider the answers to these three questions:
• Have you honestly tried to resolve your marital problems?
Because divorce is a drastic action with far-reaching repercussions, you need to feel confident that you've tried your every try in the marriage. Have you discussed the problems with your spouse? Have you seen a marriage counselor? Are you frustrated with a specific situation, or are you generally unhappy in the marriage? Know the honest answer to these questions before taking the next step.
• Are you financially ready to divorce?
Divorce can bring a financial shock even if you have a solid income. Suddenly, you'll have to shoulder all the household expenses, including your mortgage or rent, groceries, monthly car payments, health insurance, and more. Sit down and do the math: Can you afford to be on your own right now, or do you need more time to get your financial ducks in a row?
• Do you have sufficient emotional support?
People who adjust best to post-divorce life are usually those that have adequate emotional support during their divorce journey. Do you have family and friends to lean on? Can you find a support group or therapist in your area or online? It's a good idea to already have support in place before moving on.
If you're considering divorce but want to try an approach that might mean a brighter future, contact the Miller Law Group at (914) 685-9805 or onlineto schedule a confidential consultation. Our team is excited to help you move forward.