The beginning of a new year is marked with resolutions, promises made to oneself to better themselves in one way or another, such as joining a gym or changing careers. A more extreme, and surprisingly common, personal resolution is to separate form a spouse and file for divorce.
January has been dubbed “Divorce Month” by matrimonial law professionals across the globe, citing the increase in inquiries from potential clients, as well as a rise in the number of new divorce case filings. If you’re one of the countless individuals who are considering filing for divorce come the start of 2016, here is what you need to know:
You’re Not Alone
According to research published from FindLaw.com, internet searches for terms relating to divorce jumped a whopping 50% between December 2010 and January 2011. Many of the couples looking for information regarding divorce, child custody, and family law will hire an attorney and begin the separation process. This trend grows steadily throughout the first few months of the year.
So, why do so many people file for divorce after the New Year? As always, reasons vary on a case by case basis, but the some of the most common can include:
- Wanting to spend one last holiday season as a cohesive and nuclear family unit;
- The desire to make family gatherings less awkward or uncomfortable;
- Not wanting to endure the stress of a divorce during Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s;
- Tax or financial reasons; and
- A limited court calendar, which delays any preliminary appearances in front of a Judge or document filing deadlines.
In addition to not wanting to upset the usual holiday routine and traditions, couples will delay filing for divorce because of financial and tax reasons. New York State considers any money earned leading up to the day a Summons is filed to be marital property, and thus, subject to equitable distribution. Because of this, one spouse may wait to file for divorce until after their husband or wife receives a substantial year-end bonus from work.
The biggest, and by far most common, reason to wait until after the New Year to file for divorce has to do with state and federal taxes. If you are still married on December 31st, each party has the option to file their taxes as “married/filing jointly” or “married/filing separately”. Filing a joint tax return usually means a couple is entitled to a larger refund, which can be used to pay for any legal fees associated with divorce. Common expenses, such as those relating to the marital home or child care, can qualify for much larger deductions if spouses are married and file their tax returns jointly.
Filing for divorce in the beginning of the year will give the parties more time to negotiate next year’s tax filing. For instance, who will claim the children as exemptions? Will either litigant be responsible to pay taxes on spousal support that was paid or received? Having a whole year to make important tax decisions can be very beneficial.
Better Be Prepared
The best way to prepare for divorce is to do your research. Spending the time to familiarize yourself with the divorce process in New York will make filing easier because you will already have a general idea of what will happen next, as well as a ballpark estimate for how long it will take for your divorce to be finalized.
Beyond completing initial research, a surefire way to secure a desirable judgment or settlement is to retain an experienced New York City family law attorney. Trying to represent yourself during any legal action is never recommended, especially when the case is as sensitive as a divorce or child custody matter. The fate of your family and lifestyle are at stake during divorce, and an attorney will be well-equipped to advocate on your behalf. It is important that your lawyer has the best interest of you and your children in mind, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and voice your concerns openly and honestly.
Schedule a Consultation
There is no need to rush into an attorney’s office first thing in the morning on January 4th, but it is recommended that you schedule a consultation as soon as you are sure divorce is right for your relationship. The attorneys at the family law firm of Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. work tirelessly for their clients, advocating on their behalf in Supreme and Family courts throughout New York City and Long Island. To find out how their experience and stellar reputation can benefit your divorce or child custody case, contact Brian and his team today!