It’s no accident that January has become widely known as “divorce month” in legal circles everywhere. Every year, a large number of couples decide to call quits on their marriage as soon as New Year’s Day is over. In fact, Google indicates that “divorce” peaks as a search term somewhere between Jan. 6 and Jan. 12 — most likely as soon as a lot of couples manage to pull down their Christmas decorations.
Why the sudden rush? Honestly, there’s usually nothing “sudden” about it. Many couples drift along in stable-but-unhappy relationships until the stress and “family-togetherness” of the holidays drive all of their conflicts to the surface. By January, they’ve had enough.
Other couples — either separately or together — know they want a divorce well before January hits. They just don’t want to upset the status quo (and their families) by making their break public until the holiday festivities are over.
If you suspect that a divorce is imminent in your life, take the following steps today:
- Gather all of your financial documents, including retirement plan information and real estate holdings. Make copies of them so that you can begin to take stock of your marital assets and debts.
- Take an inventory of all of your personal assets that have significant value. Paintings, vehicles, boats, jewelry and other high-value items may need to be appraised before their value is determined and divided.
- Find out more about what you can expect in a divorce in terms of spousal support, child support and the division of assets. Every case is unique, so tailored advice is important.
- Consider hiring a financial advisor to work with you as you negotiate the terms of your split. If you and your spouse have significant income and assets, it may be important to discuss tax issues and more with someone experienced.
Facing a divorce isn’t easy, but you don’t have to face it alone — and having a plan for yourself is half the battle.