I recently heard a rumor that January was ‘divorce month.’ Really? I guess I am not surprised as the holidays can really take their toll on people; family gatherings, financial stress, and the pending New Year all have a way of pulling on those heart strings. Apparently, if you’re filing for divorce in January you are not alone.
If you and your spouse have children, are close with your families, or just found that the holidays were an unpleasant reminder of your rocky relationship, thoughts of divorce tend to surface when all the holiday tinsel loses its sparkle.
I don’t know about you but, I live for my son, he is my world. The holidays are a magical time for kids especially when they are small. Going public with your divorce right before or during the holidays would make for horrible memories for kids, something you just can’t bring yourself to bestow upon them.
Then there’s your family. I am quite close with my parents and the thought of disappointing them with my desire for divorce around the holidays is more than I could bear.
And of course, there are the holidays themselves. You spend more time at home with your spouse; frustration with the things that drive you crazy and their constant presence give you the undeniable urge to call it quits once and for all.
I have been there. This dark place between knowing I should get a divorce and not wanting to break up my home and disappoint my family. And then there were the financial ramifications to think about…
Don’t let January be the month you make a hasty decision without thinking it all through.
- Know your assets. If you don’t know what you have, find out. Not knowing may leave you with regrets when you are sitting at the settlement table.
- Start saving. If you don’t have a separate account in your name alone, get one or at the very least find a place to stash some cash for attorney fees and starting over.
- Start or change a career. Stay at home parents will most likely need to find employment to support themselves. If this is you have a career plan in place.
- Create a new budget. Remember divorce means going from two incomes to one, leaving your expenses solely up to you. Decide how you will afford your expenses by taking a bill inventory.
- Important documents. With divorce often comes name changes, will amendments, and adjustments in beneficiaries. Don’t let haste make you forget these important changes that should be addressed ASAP.
- Accept lifestyle changes. Life will be different after divorce. A new budget may call for cutbacks on things you have grown accustomed too. Mentally prepare for these changes and understand things will get better.
A hasty January divorce may leave you full of regrets. A new year can mean a new happier you, but don’t rush to make it happen. Consider all of the variables, plan carefully, and most importantly don’t get caught up in a fantasy you won’t be able to live with come next January.
Suzanne Cramer is a Certified Personal Finance Counselor®.