The ending of yet another year and thinking about life and goals for the next year brings up all sorts of thoughts; psychologists and lawyers will tell you the clients they see have them run the gambit during the holiday season (Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Years). Often this brings up a continually declining marriage and thoughts of filing for divorce. So, with the holidays, it often the best of times, with gatherings of family and friends, and the worst of times, with the thought of entering another year in bad marriage. This blog addresses the key reasons you should probably wait to file for divorce until (early) next year (and what you should be doing now).
First, from financial standpoint, divorce is a complex transaction and a filing at the beginning of a year is “cleaner” point to value assets than mid-year. A prior complete year’s tax returns have just been completed. Other corollary items, such as traditional year-end bonuses have been paid and health plans have made their changes. Thus, unlike any other time of the year, the finances and other large costs or potential costs, such as healthcare, are easier to assess and address in a divorce at the beginning of the year.
Second, although there is a sixty-day cooling off period before a court can issue a divorce decree and divorce the parties, divorces ordinarily take several months. Real and personal property must be valued. Some business, pensions and other assets need valuations. Where children are involved, there may be custody evaluations. All of this must occur before the parties normally settle. If they do not, the courts order the parties to try to mediate a resolution before trial. Thus, divorce ordinarily takes several months and starting at the beginning of the year is the best time to ensure it completes in the same tax year (and does not appear to you to be dragging into a second, which is psychologically challenging).
Third, the “getting ready” to file a divorce is sometimes a lengthy process. You must select divorce counsel, set a consult, and gather documents before your counsel can even file for you. So, while you may not be able (or want to file divorce this year), you can start the process now, so your divorce can be filed early next year. With a marriage of a long-duration, it can sometimes take several days to weeks to gather all the information your divorce attorney will need for property and custody issues.
While there is no right or wrong time to file divorce, filing in early 2019 may make strategic sense for you. We hope this blog helps you consider the complex legal world of divorce. This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle divorce cases of all types throughout the State. It is written for general use only and is not intended as specific legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.