Avoiding Legal Trouble

Should You Wait Until After The Holidays To Ask For A Divorce?

You've heard of Black Friday, but do you know about Divorce Monday? That's the unofficial nickname for the first Monday in January each year among divorce attorneys because divorce filings typically increase by as much as a third that month. Why wait? If you already know that you intend to file, is there any good reason to hold off until January? Absolutely. Here are 3 things to consider:

1. You can minimize the emotional fallout.

The reality is that the holidays are already fairly emotional for a lot of people. Adding a divorce into the mix is bound to have social repercussions. Joint friends may give you some flak if you file for divorce right before Christmas. If you have children, you may be accused of putting your own needs ahead of theirs.

Like it or not, a lot of people may expect you to put on a smile and pretend to be happy for one more holiday season. If you have children, you don't want your spouse to be able to claim that you caused them significant emotional distress by leaving right at the holidays.

2. You can get into court faster.

Another reason to delay is that there simply might not be any point to filing before January. You may not be able to get into court until then anyhow. Family court can get overwhelmed with emergency hearings as parents who are already divorced (or in the process) struggle over holiday visitation schedules. The court will give scheduling preference to those people who already have a divorce in the works or who need an immediate hearing to resolve an issue over those who are just starting the process. The courts may also be short-staffed due to end-of-the-year vacation time and be operating fewer days due to the holidays.

Filing in December may just mean waiting longer for a court date to actually get anything done. Aside from just being inconvenient, it could cause problems if you haven't told your spouse that you plan on filing for divorce. You may be worried about whether or not he or she will continue to provide income and support for you or the children in between the time that you file and the time that there's a court order in place to control those things.

3. You can take advantage of tax breaks and bonus income.

Your marital status on the last day of the year affects your ability to file jointly. If you and your spouse separate before the last day of the year, you lose the advantage of filing your federal income taxes as a married couple. That can affect everything from your ability to stay in a lower tax bracket to how much you can deduct for charitable contributions.

If your spouse receives a significant year-end bonus in cash or stocks, you might need to wait until after the bonus is received in order to be entitled to any of it. In some states, any money or valuables received after the divorce petition is filed belongs only to the spouse who receives it. Money and valuables received prior to that point are marital property and subject to division.

Keep in mind that these are only things to consider. You may have good reasons for filing now, rather than later. Consider talking with an attorney about your choices and getting some advice now, even if you think you want to wait to file until the first of the new year.

To seek advice from a family law practice, contact a lawyer such as Tolman Kirk Clucas PLLC.