January. A month for self-reflection, New Years Resolutions, putting the decorations away, and long, cold and dark days.

And divorce.

Decisions made about divorce occur way before the month of January rolls around; January is just the month during which actual steps are taken to walk away from the marriage. Couples ‘on the brink’ decide to keep it together for the children and the rest of the family until after the holidays. Why make things more difficult during an already difficult and stressed time of the year? If a couple or one half of a couple decides to divorce because they have come to that conclusion, they figure, what’s another month? Usually not much in the scheme of things.

Year-end reflections often come in the form of unhappy spouses who assess their situation and say to themselves, ‘I just can’t take another year like this. I’m out.’ I cannot do this anymore. I don’t want to do this anymore. How can I make my life better? Because the holidays are a time where emotions run high, an unhappy marriage pushes those feelings to the breaking point.

I want a divorce written on a paper note stuck to a notice board

“People don’t want to be accused by friends and family that they were heartless right before Christmas,” says Miles Mason, a Memphis-based family and divorce lawyer. Holding off until January makes them seem a little more thoughtful in the eyes of their loved ones.

For some, they wait until the end of the year bonus, a portion of which can be claimed as an asset from a spouse so that waiting until January will not interfere with tax filings. Some people consult with an attorney before the holidays to get the basics – costs, options, effects on life changes, etc. Other people call an attorney or seek out counsel out of pain. They realize that what they have is not what they want. And they want something different. They really do.

Although there is never a good time to get a divorce, there are times that are better than others. The key thing – regardless of when you decide to divorce – is to do it when you are more rational and less emotional. If you are reacting out of pain and want that pain to go away right now, getting divorced may not be the right answer – at that moment. Taking a step back; evaluating your situation for what it is and, more importantly, what it isn’t – will allow you the space and time to make a decision about your marriage and divorce under conditions that allow for clear thinking and decisions. When we make a decision – any decision – when we are in pain, have been hurt, or feel extremely vulnerable, it can backfire and be counterintuitive. This isn’t to say to not get a divorce, but to make sure that very important decision when you are in the best frame of mind possible – because divorce is hard enough.

Divorce is seldom an easy decision, January or otherwise.

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