Sometimes events occur in a marriage that trigger an immediate divorce filing, such as an episode of domestic violence between the parties and/or the children. More often, a marriage unravels and a spouse “wonders” if they should file and when. No matter when it occurs, divorce is long and emotionally draining experience. In reality, many couples stay together long after the marriage is no longer one based on love and mutual respect for many reasons, such as finances or children. That said, many divorces are filed in January or February of a new year. This blog explores the benefits of filing for a divorce in the new year.
Avoiding the holidays. In the United States, the most significant holidays for many, if not most families, is Thanksgiving and Christmas. For this reason, when school starts in the fall, many spouses wait to file for divorce because of the turmoil it creates for these upcoming holidays, coupled with the time requirements of addressing a new school year. There is sound logic in this approach because most parents have a family ritual surrounding Thanksgiving (such as eating turkey with the extended family and watching football), Black Friday shopping, or Christmas. In particular, with Christmas, the family may go to a special church service or wait all year to see the children wake up and experience the magic of Santa’s presents. Since these memories will be lost, it may make sense to wait to file a divorce until it can be completed with the least interference with school and the holidays.
Being prepared for the new year. By statute in Indiana, the court cannot divorce the parties until at least sixty (60) days have passed.1 The reality in most cases is that it takes several months for the parties to reach an agreement to the terms of divorce, namely division of property and/or custody, or prepare for and go to a contested divorce trial. By filing in January or February, it provides the necessary time to pass to get divorced within the year in most cases and minimizes the interference with the holidays. Further, it allows the parties to start the new year (and tax year) off with a clean slate.
New Year’s resolution. In cases where the marriage is no longer a partnership built on love and trust, it is exhausting and causes chronic stress. It is much like being overweight, out of shape, or in a dead-end job—it is something that needs change. For this reason, a number of married couples make divorce a New Year’s resolution. While this should not be a hasty decision, it is a resolution that may well make you happier in the next year and be the best time to file to avoid interruption of the important holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas because many divorces are finalized within six months. In addition, this may time out with summer in case the children need to start a different school based on the parents divorcing. The kids can start the new year in a new school on Day 1 if the divorce finalizes in the summer.
While you may not have the luxury of planning when you file for divorce, if you can, you should consider filing early in the year if the considerations in this blog are operational in your life. This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle divorces of all types throughout the state. It is written for general educational purposes. It is not intended as legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.