Across the U.S., January typically sees the most new divorce filings of the calendar year, earning it the nickname, "Divorce Month." There is an intuitive reason for this, of course, as January is traditionally a time of new beginnings. When the New Year rolls around, many people commit to turning over a new leaf and making resolutions, and this often means taking action on matters they have been pushed to the sidelines.
If you are thinking of putting "Get a Divorce" on your list of New Year's resolutions, here are three good reasons to go ahead with that plan:
• New Year, New Beginnings: Most people want to enjoy the holidays without too much upheaval, so waiting until after the decorations are put away and the guests have gone home can provide a measure of peace. This is especially true for parents who don't want to upset their children and create negative associations with what should be a special and happy time of year. When those New Year's resolutions come out though, being single may be near the top. The sooner you get started on the process, the more likely it is that things will be settled before the next big holiday season, giving both you and your children time to adjust.
• The Bonus Check is in the Bank: A more pragmatic reason might be wanting to ensure that finances are clearly delineated between one year and the next. If your spouse is expecting a big year-end bonus, waiting until after the end of the year to file for divorce can help clarify that this income is marital property, meaning that you would be entitled to a share of it in the property distribution. In New Jersey, once either spouse files a complaint for divorce, the marital partnership ends, and the couple ceases to accrue marital property together as of that date.
• Time to Plan for the New Tax Year: There are many tax implications involved in a divorce, and closing out the year before rearranging finances is often a sound practical decision. You will have more time to attend to tax planning for the next year, figuring out things like who will get the mortgage interest deduction and who will take exemptions for children. While filing in January doesn't guarantee that you will meet the end of year requirements for filing differently next year (as head of household, or single, for example), it does give you a good chance. The majority of divorces can be completed within one year -- at least if both parties are motivated to resolve matters.
Getting divorced is rarely a pleasant prospect, so many people put it off for months; some even delay for years. However, the sense of closure that comes along with finally having the courage to take that big step can be not only gratifying, but also life-affirming -- and that, of course, is what new beginnings are all about.
Not sure how to begin the divorce process? While the following information is New Jersey specific, there are common aspects that apply to all and in all states: