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Is “Divorce Month” a Real Thing?

By Mary Salisbury December 10, 2023 Family

Statistics suggest that people mostly initiate their divorce actions in January either by filing for divorce, separating (moving out) or consulting with a divorce professional. Some people think “it’s a new year, it’s time for a new start,” hence January has been dubbed “divorce month.”

However, as you know, divorce is a process, and divorces that are initiated in January still have a LONG way to go before being finalized. In some states, like California, one must file an action for divorce to begin the 6-month waiting period. In North Carolina, you must move out and begin living separately to begin the 12-month waiting period.

Probably, the most common reasons why January is a big month for divorce is that (1) people don’t want to deal with an inevitable divorce during the holidays, or (2) the straw that broke the camel’s back occurred during the holidays.

Reasons Why People Don’t Want to Deal with Divorce During the Holidays

I can think of many reasons why people don’t want to deal with their divorce during the holidays. For one, it’s thought of as socially inappropriate. The thought here is that separating or filing for divorce during the holidays is taboo and socially unacceptable.  Not only are you divorcing, but you wrecked everyone else’s Christmas to boot!

Along this same line of thinking, parents decide to grin and bear it during the holidays, essentially faking it to keep the kids happy. They want the kids to experience one more year of family traditions. For young children who are still oblivious to Mom and Dad’s marital problems, this can ensure the kids feel the joy of the holidays.

On top of it, the holidays are already stressful enough. Between parties and events, cooking and shopping, family get-togethers and decorating, all of which should be a source of pleasure, the holidays can instead add up to lots of stress and spending! Moving out and professional fees can be a huge hit on the budget during a time when the budget already gets pushed to the limit.

Good Reasons Why You Should Start the Process Before or During the Holidays

I can think of very good reasons why someone should NOT postpone the inevitable and go ahead and start the divorce process during the holidays.

Initiating the Process Can Be a Relief

I often hear from couples that having a consultation to learn about the process can be a huge relief. Divorce, especially if you have not been through it before, is full of unknowns, and that can add to fear. Having at least a general understanding of the divorce process, how child support and spousal support are determined and how assets (and debts) are divided can be a huge stress reliever!

Having a consultation with a divorce professional, which for many is the first step towards a divorce, and taking pro-active steps to plan divorce can also give one a sense of hope. Getting the ball rolling and having that first step behind you may make the holidays more enjoyable.

Your kids, and even your older grandkids, can feel the tension and that can overshadow any enjoyment of having the family together. Maintaining appearances can be emotionally taxing. Your kids may be happy that you are finally ending an unhappy marriage. Family traditions can be kept. They may just feel a little different.

The Sooner You Start, The Sooner It Will Be Over

If “divorce month” is a real thing, entering into the financial and legal process in front of everyone who waits until January to seek out help can be an advantage. Divorce professionals can be inundated with new clients and one may find that the professional of their choice isn’t taking on new clients.

The family court system can take a long, long time so the sooner you start, the sooner it will be over. The very reason that other people don’t want to deal with their divorce during the holidays may make it a perfect time to get the professional attention you need.

Divorce Is a Deeply Personal Matter

The pros and cons about timing must be weighed and the decision should be based on the emotional impact to the family. This is why a one-hour consultation with a Certified Divorce Financial Planner (CDFA) and Mediator is very helpful. It gives individuals and couples knowledge about how the divorce process works. They also learn how mediation can help them have a financially smarter and emotionally healthier divorce.

Let’s Have a Conversation

Did you initiate your divorce in January and what prompted you to do that? How long did your divorce process take? Do you wish you had received financial advice in your divorce?

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Catherine Vance

The hardest part is taking that first step.
After you do that, yes–it’s a roller coaster so buckle up and know you
WILL get through it like millions of others.
Mediate, mediate, mediate!
Otherwise you’re sending the lawyers’ kids to college instead of your own.
—Family Law Attorney-Mediator (30 years)

Mary Salisbury

Completely agree Catherine!

The Author

Mary Salisbury is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® and Divorce Mediator and the founder of The Right Divorce Solution, LLC. Mary helps clients understand the long-term financial implications of property division, child support and alimony. Mary’s passion is to help couples and individuals have a financially smart and emotionally kinder divorce.

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