Initiating a Divorce During the Holiday Season – What to Consider

Getting a Divorce During the Holidays

Initiating or filing for divorce in San Diego County during the holiday season can be difficult. It is why many do so in January, known as the peak season for divorces. Divorce filings are reported to spike by nearly one-third following the holidays.

Already a stressful time of the year, a divorce can add even more tension within the family – especially if children are involved and expect Mom and Dad to be together for certain traditions. 

How are gift budgets handled now, for instance? How is time split with the kids or family gatherings in general on Christmas morning? Which church is attended for Christmas Eve service? And how does everyone cope with these changes?

In addition to the emotional and mental impact of divorce over the holidays, there are several other factors to consider before pulling the plug.

The Date of Separation

Keeping practicality in mind, the date of a couple’s separation can have a significant impact on their division of property. For instance, if one spouse usually receives a hefty year-end bonus, it may be a good idea to wait and file for divorce after the new year. This is because each spouse’s earnings will remain their property once both parties separate. A delay in filing for divorce may also avoid more unnecessary litigation in the case.

The default rule is the opposite, when all earnings and accumulations earned during marriage are considered community property and divided equally. 

Making Your Children a Priority

Your first priority when moving forward with the decision to divorce during the holiday season is to make your children a priority by keeping the process away from them. They have been anxiously waiting for this most wonderful time of the year, so it is best for everyone to:

  • Avoid visible conflict, heated discussions, and legal talk in front of them
  • Not fight about the children or custody of them in front of them

Along with these tips, be flexible if children are involved. They want to spend time with both parents over the holidays, so if both spouses are not with them on Christmas Day, one spouse can plan to get together with them on another special day. 

Making a Plan

Be prepared by deciding together how to discuss the divorce before the topic comes up among friends. Also, be mindful about how much detail to go into around friends because it is safe to say that it will get back to the ex-spouse, which may damage the case.

Gathering Information and Documents

Once the divorce has been initiated, no matter the time of year, it is critical to gather all essential information and documents so that the divorce attorney can get started on the process faster and without any hiccups.

Documents include:

  • Income-related paperwork, such as both spouse’s paycheck stubs over the last year, taxes, and any business expenses if one spouse is self-employed
  • Real estate-related paperwork, like any legal documents that show any real estate that is owned together or separately, mortgage statements, refinance statements, and tax assessor documents.
  • Joint financial accounts and bank statements over the last three years
  • Life insurance
  • All marital debts, including credit cards, loans, and medical bills
  • Pension funds
  • Vehicle titles, registration, and debt

Consult with an Attorney

Once each spouse has gathered all of the essential documents to propel the divorce forward, they should seek counsel with a divorce attorney experienced in evaluating all of the complexities of the case, including financial assets, child custody, and more. 

Divorce Attorney

Keeping Old Traditions and Starting New Ones

Take the higher road by keeping long-time family traditions, but also keep an open mind by starting new traditions as well. This may mean evolving into making a new traditional holiday meal or baking goodies, or visiting a new holiday attraction without the other spouse. New traditions may also involve spending time separately with the friends both spouses share. 

Understanding There Are Emotions Involved

Days during the divorce process may be up and down – especially over the holidays when fond family traditions have morphed into a new future. Embrace those moments of joy, whether that is hearing a beloved Christmas carol or watching a holiday movie, or opening up gifts with friends or family. Do not spend the holidays alone. Support during these times is imperative.

At the same time, understand that it is OK to be sad. It is a natural step in the divorce process. Let young children know that feeling sadness is also a normal part of this transition and that they can talk about it together at any time as everyone adjusts to the new family circumstances. 

Watching Holiday Spending

Even though parents who are divorcing may want to show their love by buying their kids everything on their Christmas wish list (including those expensive items), they need to consider watching their budget since a divorce will affect their future financial picture. Each spouse should only spend what they can afford.

Take Care of Yourself

The holidays are stressful enough without adding in a divorce. Spouses should take time for themselves for better physical, mental, and spiritual health by:

  • Eating well – including a holiday treat or two
  • Drink in moderation
  • Exercise
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Get a massage
  • Go out to dinner with a friend

Those initiating a divorce during the holiday season should remember that a divorce can represent a fresh start and a new chapter in your life.

Consider Options for Spending the Holidays

There are a few options ex-spouses can coordinate and cooperate on spending the holidays:

  • Alternate holidays, such as one parent getting the children on Christmas in odd years.
  • Assign fixed holidays to each parent, such as if one parent is Jewish and the other is Christian, allowing Hanukkah or Christmas to be assigned to each parent.
  • Split holidays, which is ideal for parents who live close by to split a portion of each holiday with their children.
  • Double holidays, which allows the children to celebrate the holidays twice, once with each parent that they choose on two different dates.

If you are going through a divorce during the holiday season, contact an experienced attorney today. Call The Law Offices of Steven M. Bishop at 619-299-9780 or contact us through our online system for a free consultation.

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Discuss Your Case With An Experienced Family Law Specialist

To talk to our lawyer about your family law issue in a free telephone consultation, please call our office at 619-299-9780. You may also send us an email. We represent people throughout San Diego County in a host of different family law matters.

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San Diego, CA 92108

Phone: 619-299-9780

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