When you have tried to make the marriage work but you have, sadly, decided to go your separate ways, you need to focus on the future. A question we are asked a lot is when is the best time to file for divorce? After the holidays? Before the end of the tax year? Are there reasons for waiting and filing strategically? The simple answer is, yes. Here are key factors to consider as you determine what’s best for your unique situation.
The children: Of course, your first and foremost consideration is the best interests of your children. Many families choose to have one final vacation as a family or wait until the New Year before moving forward with a divorce. Filing for divorce at a time during the year when the children (and you) are naturally facing less pressures could work well for your situation. Without question, the impending breakup of your marriage will have tremendous effects on your kids. But, you should strive to minimize that stress as much as possible.
Finances: Is there a better time for you financially during any given year? Perhaps January is a good time to file, when the end of year bonuses have come through and are in your bank account. You can also begin to plan for the new tax year. There are numerous tax implications when filing for divorce and while filing in January does not specifically guarantee that you will meet the end of year requirements for filing differently next year (as head of household, or single, for example), it does give you a good chance to be able to do so. Begin establishing your own credit history and open your own bank accounts so that you are able to make your own purchases once you have separated from your spouse. Get educated about your marital finances if you are unaware of your joint income, assets or debts, so that you can make informed and educated decisions during negotiations.
Your health and well-being: We all recognize that divorce is a stressful, expensive and emotionally draining time. But, putting off the decision that you know you will inevitably make will only serve to lengthen your stress and feelings of upheaval and uncertainty. Many people report feeling relieved or even a sense of closure and empowerment when their divorce papers are officially filed. If you have not done so, consider speaking with a therapist to discuss the emotional fallout and possible repercussions to filing for your divorce. [Get our 7 Top Tips for Divorce Stress Relief]
Your Safety: If you are in a violent or abusive situation, you should be most concerned with your safety. If you are afraid that your filing for divorce may anger an abusive spouse, have a good safety plan in place before you file. As you gather your paperwork, keep it with a trusted friend or relative, or in a safe deposit box that your spouse can’t access. [Find Out Signs, Symptoms & How to Get Help For Domestic Violence]
Your Ability to Communicate: If at all possible, attempt to discuss the divorce with your spouse and collaboratively make decisions regarding child custody and parenting time of your children, financial support and any other issues that you can agree upon, sooner rather than later. The more joint decisions regarding your divorce the better: you will save emotionally and financially, while maintaining control over your future and the future of your children. To that end, consider mediation as an alternative to traditional divorce litigation, which can become extremely adversarial in nature.
No one can tell you the exact right time for you to file for divorce. The decision is yours and yours alone. Take some time for yourself and talk to trusted friends and family members who can be sources of good advice and information as well as sources of comfort during this difficult time.
If you would like more information about New Jersey divorce and family law, please contact us today to schedule your initial consultation with one of our experienced and compassionate family law attorneys or mediators.