Many lawyers will tell you they get tons of inquiries about divorce after the holidays. For various reasons, the January “divorce month” phenomenon is a real thing. Actual divorce filings begin ticking up right after New Year’s, climbing through Valentine’s Day, and peaking in March.
If you are considering getting a divorce, here are 5 tips to prepare yourself for a stressful and life-changing undertaking:
January and August are peak times for divorce filings
Why does the divorce rate jump in January and again in August? It may be philosophical – a New Year’s resolution to make a break and move on. It may be the aftermath of a stressful holiday season or summer vacation – this just isn’t working. It may be for practical reasons; Christmas was terrible timing, but now things are quiet. August divorces may be centered around the kids and the new school year.
A study of divorce filings in Washington state showed that divorce filings rise sharply in January through March, then drop for several months before surging again in July and August. Then the rate plummets from September through December before the cycle starts again.
Many people start the process in January, and realize they are not quite ready to “take the plunge.” Thus lots of people start talking to a divorce lawyer this month but don’t file the papers until February or March.
5 things to consider before you file for divorce
- Learn about New Jersey divorce – You need to understand the basics such as the divorce process and how long it takes, how property and debts are divided, how child support works, and whether alimony may apply in your divorce. Educate yourself and then talk to a divorce attorney about specific answers and strategies for your unique situation.
- Timing is important — For many people, the winter lull after New Year’s may be the best time to commence divorce proceedings. For others, it’s not the right window. Are finances tight right now? Is this a busy season at your job? Would you be uprooting your children from their school? Getting divorced is hard no matter when you do it. There’s never going to be a perfect time, but there may be a wrong time.
- Scale back on social media – Anything you post on Facebook or Instagram is fair game in court. Bite your tongue regarding your marriage or divorce proceedings. Be careful when posting pictures, especially photos of a new love interest. Do not assume that your “circle of trust” will keep your secrets. Do assume that opposing counsel is monitoring your social media.
- Get a handle on money matters – Start collecting pay stubs, bank statements, credit card bills, tax records and other financial information. Whose name is on the mortgage, the car loans, bank accounts? How much total debt do you have together? How much income will you have when you’re on your own? What’s your credit score? The more you know, the better equipped you will be to make financially sound decisions.
- Plan your divorce and the ‘after’ – What are your priorities in divorce, and what do you want your new life to be like? You want to set short-term and long-term goals rather than simply “getting divorced” and then floundering. You should also steel yourself for the divorce process and take steps to take care of yourself. A mental health counselor might keep you grounded and positive. Maybe a personal trainer can help you work off the stress and get in shape. Build your support network and keep them in the loop as “filing day” approaches.
How do you choose a divorce lawyer?
Ask friends and family members who have been divorced. Visit attorney websites. Read online reviews (with a grain of salt).
Then arrange an in-office consultation or two. Ask lots of questions. Before you put down thousands of dollars on a retainer, you should feel comfortable that the attorney is qualified to represent you and will be accessible to you. You should feel confident that they attorney can protect your interests in negotiations as well as in court proceedings.
Talking to a lawyer may convince you to give your marriage another try. It may convince you to hold off while you “get your ducks in a row.” It may convince you to take that big leap today. But if you feel pressured or manipulated, or if you feel you are not being heard, try a different lawyer.
Source: Top 5 Tips: How To Prepare For Your Divorce (Huffington Post)