The beginning of the year serves as a time for people to reevaluate their lives, priorities, goals, and personal relationships. It can also inspire people to leave an unhappy marriage. According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, January is one of the busiest times for family law attorneys, with divorce filings spiking during the year’s first month. While January is unofficially designated as “Divorce Month,” is there a specific reason couples choose to separate this time of year? Here’s a look at some crucial factors that influence their decision to file for divorce.
If the holidays have strained your marriage, you are not alone. Although the holidays are a cheerful and joyous time, they can be tough months for couples with marital problems. According to a report by MarketWatch, lawyers see up to a 30% increase in divorce cases during the first month of the year. Couples with children will typically wait to file for divorce until January to allow the kids to enjoy one last holiday season with the whole family before the start of the divorce process. For a troubled marriage, a divorce can be triggered by money and gift-buying issues, the stress of traveling, and family disagreements during this time. The new year is also a time for year-end reflection and represents a new chapter in people’s lives. Those contemplating a divorce may decide that it is the best time to move forward with the separation.
Another reason why people choose to file in January is due to tax issues. According to the IRS, divorce can affect a couple’s tax situation. A report by Business Insider found that tax professionals often advise their clients to delay filing until the new year. Some couples may have filed a joint tax return in the past and want to avoid dealing with that going forward. Others would like to have the option to file jointly to maintain the tax benefits for another year. Depending on the couple’s circumstances, there may be other financial reasons to file until the new year. By filing in January, a spouse can also increase the odds of qualifying to file as head of household or single for the next tax year. The tax implications can get complicated, and those considering divorce should consult with a qualified financial expert to ensure the best outcome.
While January does see an increase in divorce filings, there are also other months where there is a rise. According to a study by the University of Washington, August is the next popular month when divorces are filed because it is at the end of summer and right before the holidays start. Many couples choose to stick it out through the summer holidays due to the children being out of school, but once they are back in school, parents see this as an opportunity to file for divorce. An article by IFL Science reports that family law attorneys also see a spike in divorce filings in March as the end of winter can bring renewed energy and a sense of fresh start for some individuals.
There is no right time to file for a divorce, and every couple should consider what suits their specific circumstances. It’s important to note that the reasons for divorce can vary greatly and the filing timing may depend on each couple’s individual needs. When you’ve made the difficult decision to end your marriage, the caring and experienced family law attorneys at SFLG can talk to you about the dissolution process and guide you through the following steps toward reaching the best possible outcome.
by Debra Schoenberg