Do I Wait to File for Divorce in the New Year?

Timing is everything, even when it comes to divorce. Deciding when to file will affect your finances, the well-being of your children, and your ability to move on to the next phase of your life. Regardless, it’s important to consult with an experienced Family Law & Probate attorney to protect your best interests. SederLaw explores the potential advantages and disadvantages of filing for divorce before or after the new year starts.

Filing before the year ends

Some things can’t wait, and for many spouses that includes filing for divorce. These are a few reasons for filing before December 31:

Protecting your health and safety: If staying in your marriage presents a threat to your health or safety, then separating and getting divorced as soon as possible might be best. This is especially the case if you have children who may be in harm’s way the longer you stay in an abusive marriage.

Keeping your property separate: Your date of separation determines which property gets divided between you and your spouse. A court can only divide marital property, that which was acquired during the marriage and before the separation date. If you expect an end-of-year bonus or wish to obtain some piece of property that you don’t want to share with your spouse, it may be better to separate and then work towards divorce early.

You (and maybe your spouse) are ready to move on: Emotions can be fickle, especially when it comes to divorce. If you and your husband or wife have been separated for the requisite amount of time and you can agree on your terms of divorce, filing now may be best.

Filing after the year ends

Holidays are stressful enough without the added burden of opening a divorce case. These are some reasons to wait until the near year begins to file:

Making good holiday memories: With the frenzy of the holidays – including travel time, in-laws, and children’s holiday events – many spouses simply don’t want the conflict that a divorce filing will bring. Waiting until after Christmas and New Year’s can also preserve positive family memories by not associating these and other holidays with divorce.

Taking advantage of your tax status: Couples can reap tax savings by filing jointly as a married couple. But to do so they must remain married through the end of the calendar year. Otherwise, a couple must file individually and this will result in larger tax obligations. If you have children, claiming them as dependents can be tricky and you may need time to resolve that with your spouse.

Maintaining your healthcare coverage: If you have health insurance coverage through your spouse, divorcing before the year ends may mean losing that coverage and compelling you to obtain it elsewhere. This can be particularly concerning for older married couples who divorce and for whom Medicare becomes an issue. Continuing your health insurance coverage is vital and may be part of your separation and divorce negotiations. You should be aware of open enrollment dates in other insurance programs if you lose coverage because of divorce.

Helping You Make the Right Decision

Divorce is always a challenge, and tackling it starts with determining when you should file your court papers. If your marriage is coming to an end, it’s time to retain experienced legal counsel. Our team can help you make the decision that best fits your needs and objectives.