A New Year Brings New Beginnings…Including Divorce?

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In North Dakota, the month of January often brings with it the uncertainty of frigid temperatures, changing weather conditions, treacherous driving conditions and increased car accidents.  But along with that uncertainty, the new year also brings with it the promise of new beginnings.  Many people take the opportunity to reflect on their lives, professions and relationships to set new goals for growth into the new year.  Perhaps not by coincidence, January has gained itself a reputation as the “Divorce Month”, as there is often an increase in divorce filings just after the new year.  Here are a few of the reasons why:

  • Stress of the Holidays: The holidays can be stressful, especially on an already strained relationship.  People who have children often wait until after the holidays are over in order to avoid any disruption for the children.  Sometimes the fact that the children are home from school for an extended time distracts from an unhappy relationship. However, once the children are back to school and routine, the reality settles back in as well, and the decision is made to proceed toward divorce.  Sometimes the stress of the holidays itself can be the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back.”  Perhaps financial stress from increased holiday spending, time spent with in-laws or increased alcohol use during the holidays contributed toward the strain on the relationship.  No matter the reason, people often indicate that the stress of the holidays contributed toward the decision to divorce shortly after the start of the new year.
  • Year End Bonus: For others, the fact that there is money available from a year-end bonus to pay for an attorney and any court filing fees is the rationale to begin divorce proceedings in January.  Waiting to file for divorce in January ensures that all income for the year, including any work-related bonuses, is treated as marital property and income for child support purposes.
  • Tax Reasons: There are many tax implications involved in a divorce, which can also provide a rationale for the decision to initiate a divorce action in January.  For some couples, it makes the most financial sense to wait until after the close of the tax year to separate their financial matters.  For some, the decision may be made to wait until January so that they can take advantage of tax benefits associated with filing a joint tax return for the previous calendar year.  Filing early in the year will allow the opportunity to figure out various other financial questions such as which spouse will get the mortgage interest deduction or dependency exemptions for the children in the future.

If your relationship is feeling extra chilly and uncertain like the January weather in North Dakota, you aren’t alone.  Consider talking with a family law attorney so that you can confidently move forward with a strategy that is both financially and emotionally beneficial for you and your family.  If you are contemplating divorce, call us; we can help.  Contact attorney Tracy Lyson at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss today either online or by calling 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002.

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