January has garnered a reputation for being “divorce month,” with more people making New Year’s resolutions to get out of failing marriages. However, an analysis of divorce filing statistics and information searches prepared by the consumer-focused legal information website FindLaw revealed that while divorce filings spike in January, March is the month that divorce filings peak.
Peak divorce filings in March
FindLaw found that from 2008 through 2011, divorce filings increased dramatically in January compared to December, and then steadily rose until hitting high points in March. Researchers also found that searches involving terms like “divorce,” “family law” and “child custody” increased by approximately 50 percent, going from about 10,000 in December 2010 to over 16,000 in January 2011. The frequency of these searches also rose steadily through March 2011.
Experts suggest that divorce filings increase in the first part of the year because people want to put off filing for divorce until after the holidays. Many do not want to spoil holidays for children. Others suggest that stress from the holidays such as dealing with extended family members, financial strain and pressure to be happy for the holidays pushes people to take the final step of filing for divorce. In some cases, people wait until after December 31 to file for divorce for tax reasons, as a person’s marital status on that date determines tax filing status.
Preparing for Divorce
Deciding to file for divorce is not a decision people make in haste, and it is not something that people should do without taking some preparatory steps, including:
- Doing research to understand the laws governing the divorce process
- Beginning to save money and developing a financial plan for post-divorce life
- Drawing up an inventory of family assets such as jewelry and family heirlooms for property division purposes
- Making copies of all important papers, specifically those pertaining to financial assets such as checking and savings accounts, stocks and bonds, mortgage and other loan documents
Speak with a lawyer
Once people have made the decision to divorce, it is crucial that they hire a skilled divorce attorney. Divorce can be complicated, and people should not try to handle the intricacies of divorce laws while dealing with the often-overwhelming emotions that accompany divorce. If you are considering divorce, talk to an experienced divorce attorney who can advocate for your interests and help secure a fair division of marital assets.