Is January Really the ‘Divorce Month’? Stepping into the New Year means making some big changes. Whether it’s a new career opportunity, that much-needed fitness boost or eliminating toxic people and situations out of your life, the New Year is about working on a new YOU. And that means vowing to change your life for the better.
Because of these new promises and expectations, January is notorious for being the divorce month. It’s easy to see why ‘ex’ marks the spot too, when divorce lawyers and family courts see a notable influx of issued divorces in the early weeks of the New Year. And whilst the theories as to why this is the case range from couples reluctant to take the steps over the holiday period to less access to professional advice and parents believing it’s a better time for the children, the stats definitely add up.
Unfortunately there’s no good time for divorcing the person you’ve built a whole life with. And whilst Christmas and New Years’ are meant to be a time of love and happiness, it’s not always the case for everyone – sometimes there’s just no way to get back that initial spark.
If you’re really unhappy and thinking about taking bigger actions, then it certainly makes sense to start afresh in the New Year and get the ball rolling now. Here’s how to prep for the change:
1. Know the Costs
The biggest downfall about divorces are the costs involved. As if the heartbreak isn’t enough, you also need to understand the financial implications. It seems obvious but it’s surprising how many couples jump into divorce without weighing up the after costs. Being smart about the decision to cut ties means planning out your finances in advance and avoiding the worst money mistakes in divorce. Consider what costs you’ll need to work into the resolution and factor in things like divorce lawyers, time off work, tax advisors and therapy as needed.
The financial pitfalls of divorce are as real as January being the ‘divorce month’. And the financial trauma of not planning ahead adds to the emotional stress of the situation dangerously. The average divorce can cost around $20,000 – so it’s a smart option to be as prepared as you can.
Tip: Do your research so there’s less room for nasty surprises. Consider things like joint debts which will need to be reviewed and tax consequences and start building up your own savings to assist with the process. If you’re concerned about making ends meet, stocks and bonds can be easily liquidated to ease some of the financial pressure. It’s also strongly advised to consider mediation as part of the divorce, this can significantly reduce the overall costs.
2. Mixing Money and Emotion
Mixing money and emotion is almost always a recipe for disaster. We’ve all been in the position before, where you confuse feelings with facts because thinking with your heart is ruling out your head. During a divorce though you need to try and take as much of the emotion out as possible. As the one filing for divorce, you want to ensure a successful conclusion with the least amount of ‘mess’. Nasty divorces only benefits the attorney and can leave you and your spouse in an even more emotional heap.
Tip: Divorcing your spouse doesn’t mean you need to declare war on them. Keep things as professional and as civil as possible. Avoid confusing feelings with facts by being as businesslike as possible and view your attorney as a paid professional, not a friend to confide in your emotional feelings with.
3. Take Care of Your Beneficiaries
As the person filing for the divorce, it’s absolutely vital you show a good level of control. Taking care of your finances and emotional situation is essential, but don’t forget your beneficiaries too. Review your retirement plan and see what changes need to be made to protect you and your children. Review insurance policies and consider who will be named as your new beneficiary. If there are minor children involved, you’ll need to determine a new guardian. Whilst retirement plans and beneficiaries can seem like a lifetime off, it’s important they are implemented into your full divorce plan. This will save a lot of hassle, confusion and heartache down the track.
Tip: Too little preparation is a big pitfall of divorces so ensure you keep a record of everything and take care of all the legalities. This can be extremely helpful should the divorce get messy and can cover any legal loopholes.
4. Look after Your Health – and Sanity
Finances and children aren’t just the only costs to factor into a divorce – your health and sanity are just as equally important. Understand the health risks that’ll come with the emotional trauma and try and go about your daily routine as normal as you can to reduce additional issue.
Finding healthy ways to deal with the stress, whether it be talking to a professional therapist or mentally preparing yourself for the worst, can make a huge difference in a divorce. Many will let their careers slip with the emotional pressure at stake so work on continuing to develop your career and search for positive ways to support yourself and children.
Tip: Be prepared for the health changes! Lack of sleep, depression, anxiety and withdrawal symptoms are all very normal reactions to a big breakup. Allow yourself to grieve and experience the heartache, without letting it completely destroy your life or preventing important legal decisions to be made. There’s no harm in talking to a professional counsellor that specialises in divorce if need be.
5. Speak to a Professional
Whilst it’s vital to arm yourself with as much research and knowledge as you can, nothing can beat good professional advice. There’s no use trying to get through a life changing event on your own and friends and family can only help so much. Engage with an attorney who can offer relevant advice and assist in taking out as many complications within the process as possible.
Tip: Divorce financial professionals can help determine the best settlement options for you too, so consider getting in touch with one of these in addition to a good lawyer. Forking out money to have access to the advice you’ll need for the smoothest possible transition will benefit you, your soon-to-be ex-spouse and children in the long run.
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