Surge in divorce filings marks the beginning of 'Divorce Month'

Divorcing spouses can ease the process by following a few simple steps

January marks not just the beginning of a new year, but a new season: divorce season. The month, sometimes billed as 'Divorce Month', marks the beginning of a three-month period during which divorce filings surge considerably, according to MarketWatch. With the chaotic holiday period over, many couples are finally finding the time to begin the divorce proceedings that they have likely been considering for some time. People preparing for divorce, however, should make sure they follow a few simple steps to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.

Beginning of divorce season

Experts say divorce filings in January rise by about 30 percent compared to other months, a level that is largely sustained until March. The biggest reason for the surge is likely because many couples who were planning on getting divorced before the holiday season have simply postponed the big day until the new year. Understandably, especially if children are involved, many couples choose to stay together for one more holiday season rather than end their marriage on, say, Christmas Eve.

Also, family courts can be difficult to get into during the holiday period, so waiting until the new year makes practical sense, as well. Some people also aim to begin divorce proceedings in January with the goal of being divorced in time for tax season in April. That way each spouse can file taxes separately rather than jointly.

Steps to take

As Time recently pointed out, with so many people divorcing or considering divorce during January, it is important that such people are prepared. Divorce can be a long and difficult process, but preparation is the best protection against something going wrong. Anybody seriously considering divorce should, first of all, make copies of important financial documents before the big day arrives. Documents that show assets, liabilities, retirement funds, property, investments, and savings can be extremely useful during the divorce proceeding and can help prevent the other spouse from attempting to hide assets. While an attorney can help spouses gain access to these documents after divorce has been filed, preparing copies beforehand can help avoid unwanted surprises.

Likewise, it is important to remember that divorce will take some sort of financial toll. Experts recommend having a separate bank account with enough savings to cover about a year's worth of living expenses. Any credit cards with both spouses' names on them should be closed to prevent the financial activity of one spouse from damaging the credit rating of both parties.

Guidance and advice

Of course, when couples do finally decide it is time to part ways they should seek out professional legal advice. An experienced family law attorney can guide clients through the divorce process, informing them of what to expect and how best to deal with the challenges and opportunities that come up during this important phase of their lives.