Divorce season and tax refunds

January is often referred to as the kickoff of divorce season. Research has shown filings increase by 1/3rd at the beginning of the year.  Divorce attorneys generally report inquiries nearly double in January. There are reasons why waiting until the new year to file for divorce can provide benefits during the divorce process.

The holiday season is rife with distracting social and financial obligations. Couples going through a huge undertaking, such as a divorce, typically try to avoid any undue stress during this busy time.  Social obligations tend to open up conversations not ready to be discussed yet. “Where is your wife?” No awkward response required. Remaining together through the holidays helps you sidestep explaining a spouse’s absence.

The holidays also bring more close contact with extended family and in-laws. Making decisions about how the family will divide it’s time are easier. Once the divorce is in progress it will help to have a long period of months to adjust to the changes in the family structure. This will give the family time to prepare and plan for the emotional as well as the logistical demands of the new arrangement. Also children tend to have a harder time over the holidays with changes. Most couples want to wait for the sake of the children’s well being. Those couples who aren’t strategically planning their divorce, sometimes emotionally, the stress of the holiday can often act as an impetus for the divorce.

January has financial implications for divorce as well. The close of the fiscal year is December 31st.  Locating year end statements, such as debt and credit card statements are very important to do before you file. Also, if your spouse is set to receive a year-end bonus, it will benefit you financially. It could give your post-separation finances the little extra cushioning it needs.  Lastly, April and tax season are just around the corner and you will need to prepare. Making sure all of your tax information is gathered and organized will help smooth out the process of you and your spouse filing those taxes, in a post-separation context.

Your tax refund which typically comes in the early months of the year is a great way to pay initial retainer fees. These can vary widely depending on your attorney and your specific case, so a hefty tax return can be just the thing to get your legal ball rolling.

One side note about filing at the end of the year is the limited availability courts and judges. There are many cases attempting to be wrapped up before the end of the year in addition to the holiday breaks that create a limited schedule for everyone involved. January is more open and tends to be the best time to enter into the legal system.

The fresh start of a new year can bring in a resolution to make changes that weren’t possible the previous year. Whether or not you make the decision to file in January for emotional or strategic reasons, you will find that it is one of the best to pull the trigger on this challenging life event.

Please remember, this article is merely meant for guidance and information purposes.  It is NOT intended as legal advice nor does it establish attorney/client relationship or privilege.

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