The end of every year is often a time of reflection. We ponder what we are thankful for and what we want to do differently in the new year. Losing weight, beginning an exercise program, and saving money are all typical New Year’s resolutions.
Personal reflections can lead to realizations of how a marriage is no longer working. Some people resolve to file for divorce. Statistics show that couples often choose January to file for divorce, a nod to new beginnings in a new year.
Divorce Filings Increase in January
December is by far the most popular month for engagements, but it’s followed by one of the most popular months for divorce filings. January has the unfortunate nickname of “Divorce Month” since so many filings begin flooding courthouses.
Experts have several theories on why January shows such a sharp increase in divorce filings:
People want to wait until after the holidays.
- Stress levels during the holidays worsen already-fragile marriages.
- Once holiday merriment wanes, couples return to an unhappy state.
- Increased drinking during the holidays leads to more violent outbursts.
- Holiday spending heightens financial conflict.
- There’s a huge letdown after the holidays don’t improve the marriage.
Family lawyers often see a 25% increase in cases every January. The first month of the year is just the start of an upward trajectory.
January Isn’t the Only Spike in Divorce Filings
According to a 14-year study by the University of Washington, divorce filings surge in January but continue to increase until a peak in March. Couples may begin conversations with an attorney in January, but don’t file until February or March. The lag time is because they are still weighing their options. Another reason filing is delayed until March is because of complicated finances or child custody issues that are being negotiated during the first few months.
Interestingly, another sharp rise happens in August. Much like the holidays, sociologists and psychologists hypothesize that many Americans take big family trips in July. Similar to winter holidays, vacations can be stressful (forgotten suitcases, missed flights, etc.). Family vacations are also seen as a time for a family, and a couple, to bond again. A couple drifting apart hopes to find their way back to each other. The letdown felt after the winter holidays can also occur after a trip fails to live up to the
expectations of solidifying the union. When that doesn’t happen, a call to a divorce lawyer may be on the to-do list once they return home.
Preparation Is Key When Considering Divorce
No matter what month you decide to end your marriage, taking certain steps can help you be better prepared for filing for divorce.
Prepare mentally and emotionally. No matter how friendly a divorcing couple is, there are always emotions involved. Be ready to be triggered by memories both good and bad. Being future-focused, instead of dwelling on the past and regrets, can have you weather the feelings that will inevitably bubble up. Understand that your partner will have their own triggers and feelings. Instead of focusing on winning, redirect your attention to working toward what will serve you best in the days and years ahead.
Gather important financial documents. Divorces also have a financial element. New Jersey is an equitable division state that requires a solid understanding of your financial status. Pay stubs, account statements, tax returns, credit card statements, and anything else that involves money are important to have.
List assets and debts. Divide assets and debts into three categories: yours, theirs, and ours. This list will be a great starting point for your attorney to draft how property and encumbrances are split between you and your spouse. Assets, debts, and other financial information can inform child support and spousal support.
Order your credit report. By looking at your credit report, you can see in a quick snapshot what credit cards, loans, and other accounts are associated with your name. People are often surprised to see old credit cards still active, or that their name is listed on joint accounts they didn’t know about. An updated credit report can provide information to your attorney on how to advise you on what to close or amend.
Summarize your divorce goals. Think about your best-case scenario. Do you want primary custody of the children? Do you need spousal support? Do you want to stay in the marital home? Will you want to change careers? Asking and answering these questions can provide your attorney with important information about how to help you move forward.
Resolve to Speak to an Attorney
If divorce is among your New Year’s resolutions, schedule time to talk to a lawyer dedicated to divorce and family law. At Lane & Lane, LLC, we can help you get that clean slate you need. We have more than 60 years of experience in offering comprehensive divorce services. Through our experience and legal knowledge, you can make educated decisions
We know that divorce is more than ending a marriage. It is also about starting a new life. We will zealously advocate for the best interests of you and your family. Contact us to schedule a no-cost initial consultation. Reach us by phone at (908) 259-6673 or submit our online form.