For many family law attorneys, January is consistently one of the busiest months of the year. January is colloquially regarded as the “divorce month” because of uptick in the number of divorce cases initiated after the holidays, also referred to as the “New Year’s Resolution Divorce.”
The reasons behind the increase in divorce filings during the month of January vary, and are invariably specific to each individual. But, as a general matter, the start of a new year is a time for many people to reflect and make resolutions for the upcoming year, with the goal of changing their lives for the better. This may mean moving on from a toxic marriage or partner and making a concerted effort to find happiness and peace.
January also becomes a popular month because many people prefer to wait until after the holidays to file a divorce complaint. Some people, particularly those with young children, decide they want to pursue a divorce before the New Year but wait until after the holidays to actually file a complaint for the sake of their children; the idea being to allow the children to enjoy one final holiday as an intact family. Others use the holidays as a quasi-litmus test, trying to “get through” the holidays and determine if they can “make it” another year with their current spouse. This can become complicated by the fact that the holidays are often a source of stress, both emotional and financial, which can cause or contribute to marital discord.
There may also be some financial benefit in filing for divorce after the holidays. From a tax perspective, a couple’s marital status at the end of the year determines whether they are eligible to file tax returns jointly. And, given the ever-changing tax laws, there can be value in waiting to see what those changes are and how they may impact your divorce before filing.
Regardless of the reasons for the increase in divorce matters in January, it is important for people to not be influenced by the statistics and remain focused on what is best for them and their families. For some, initiating a divorce action may be the best, or only, way to achieve the “fresh start” that many people look for this time of year. But, divorce is not a one-size-fits-all solution for everyone, whether in January or any other time of the year.
Thomas Roberto, Esq. is a partner at AMBF specializing in all areas of divorce and family law.