A stressful holiday season, dealing with disliked in-laws and being cooped-up with children and visiting relatives compel married couples to make a new start and resolve the end of a marriage in the New Year. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that there is a 25 to 30 percent increase in divorce filings in January every year.
However, filing for divorce solely because of these tensions can be dangerous and self-defeating. Acting strategically and intellectually, even if difficult and time-consuming, can avoid the long-lasting impact of hasty and regrettable decisions.
A spouse should take steps, such as locating the couple's financial records, before taking actions. Financially, it may be prudent to wait until the other spouse receives their year-end bonus. The availability of company health insurance is another factor as annual premiums are ever increasing.
Preparing for property division is also important. In an equitable state, such as Pennsylvania, marital assets are divided based on each spouse's income during divorce, benefit loss, requirements of custodial parents and possible future financial needs, among other factors.
Timing is also essential. Divorce papers should not be served during the holidays or before an important family event, such as a child's wedding or graduation. Serving divorce papers during this time can force family members to associate normally joyful events with the divorce.
Regardless of any legal action, other personal conduct that escalates conflict should be avoided. A spouse should not open their partner's mail. If necessary, accountant records and financial information that was sent through the mail may be accessed through a subpoena. And, children should not be involved in any phase of the divorce. A spouse should not criticize their ex- or soon-to-be ex-spouse in front of their children.
A spouse should also carefully seek legal advice from an attorney who is not associated with the family. An independent attorney is more likely to meet the client's reasonable expectations and independently address divorce legal issues. A lawyer can help assure that a spouse obtains an equitable divorce decree.
Source: MarketWatch, "Avoid these common mistakes if you're filing for divorce in January," Quentin Fottrell, Dec. 31, 2016