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Divorce season begins as soon as the holidays are over

When the Christmas season ends, "divorce season" usually begins. It's such a common occurrence that family law attorneys even refer to the first Monday after Christmas break as "Divorce Day," because their email boxes are usually clogged with requests for appointments and the phones start ringing off the hook.

Why is the end of December and the first of January such a big rush for divorces?

Some family law experts think that there are several reasons behind the trend. On an emotional level, couples who know that their marriage is in danger will use the holidays as a chance for a last-ditch effort to keep the marriage from ending. Couples with children may already be resigned to the end of the marriage but want to put things off until after the holiday so that the kids don't permanently associate Christmas with their parent's divorce.

On a financial level, practical thinkers may have weighed out the pros and cons of separating and filing for divorce both before and after the start of the new year. For some couples, the tax consequences of separating prior to the end of the year makes the extra few days together worth the uncomfortable struggle. Others may want to separate quickly in the week between Christmas and New Year's Day in order to try to claim any significant year-end financial bonus as their own property under California law, rather than divide it up as part of the marriage's community property.

You may also have reasons for wanting to separate quickly if you believe that your spouse may soon rack up some debts for which you are going to be jointly liable if you are still together. It may seem heartless, for example, to separate from an ailing spouse who is getting ready for surgery, but it may be the only way to insulate yourself against medical debts that you would otherwise share.

Many divorce lawyers are willing to talk to you about the timing of your separation so that you make an educated decision about when to call a formal end to your relationship. If you have any questions, a divorce attorney can provide answers about your legal options.

Source: The Chicago Tribune, "After the holidays, Divorce Day looms," Danielle Braff, Dec. 25, 2016

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