Whether we like to admit it or not, most of us have “timed” our breakups around holidays, anniversaries or other special occasions. There are also cases where an individual delays the inevitable out of respect a partner who is undergoing a stressful or tragic event. Thus, it stands to reason that timing would be a critical component of divorce -- the biggest breakup of all. In the case divorce, however, timing is much more about practical matters than it is about matters of the heart.
It's no coincidence, for example, that most divorces are filed between the months of January and March. To be more specific, most individuals consult a divorce lawyer during January through February, then file for the divorce in March. What makes March such a popular month for divorce has to do with a combination of personal and financial circumstances. For one thing, you would be well past the winter holiday season, which is arguably a tough time to announce something as traumatic as a divorce. This is especially true for couples with children, who feel that they owe the kids one last holiday as a “complete” family. Even for the adults, there's a sense of psychological readiness that comes into sharper focus with the coming of the new year. Whether it's through making New Year's resolutions or associating the start of the year with a clean slate, the first quarter of the year just seems to feel “right” for many people who are contemplating divorce.
Then, there are financial reasons, which are frankly the more important considerations in the long-run. There's taxes, of course; with many employers making forms available online, more and more couples are able to file their taxes at the end of January or early February. Knowing how much you'll be getting back or how much you owe is a significant factor in any divorce, so it makes sense that couples would wait till March. Another consideration is year end commissions and bonuses, which are typically paid out during the first quarter of the upcoming year. It's common for individuals to rush to a lawyer with the idea that if they file before the bonus is paid, it will not be subject to equitable distribution. A knowledge attorney, however, will tell you that since the bonus is technically attributable to the previous year, some or all of it may be considered marital property, regardless of when it's paid. In that case, it certainly makes sense for spouses to wait till March and negotiate a fair split with help from their respective attorneys.
Ultimately, the question of when to file for divorce depends on your own personal situation. An experienced divorce attorney can help you take stock of your finances, properties and many other issues that factor into not just when, but how you should file for divorce. For more information on your divorce rights and legal options, please consider speaking with the attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C.