January is Peak Season for Divorces

January is commonly referred to as a “peak season” for divorces in Del Mar and throughout San Diego County. Although many parties file for divorce in January, their timing may be chosen for a variety of different reasons. Filing for divorce during the holiday season can cause tension within the family and significant hardship if children are involved. In an effort to avoid ruining the holidays for the children or the family, some parties put off filing until January.On the other hand, the holiday season can be a very stressful time for families causing the final straw in a marriage to break thus prompting a party to file for divorce. Making a decision to file for divorce is best done with a clear head. The holidays can be a time of chaos and tension and therefore may parties decide to “ride out” the holiday season and then re-evaluate whether they still wish to pursue divorce. In addition to the emotional and psychological reasons for filing for divorce in January, many practical explanations also exist.

As we have previously blogged, the date of separation can have a dramatic impact on the division of property. The timing of filing a divorce petition can be used as the date of separation for the parties depending on the particular facts of the case. If one spouse generally earns a significant year-end bonus or commission, it may be wise to delay filing a petition until after the first of the next year. Once spouses separate, all of their respective earnings and accumulations will remain their separate property. This is quite different than the default rule which states that all earnings and accumulations during marriage are considered community property and divided evenly. Although it is impossible to say how a year-end bonus will certainly be divided at the end of the dissolution process, waiting until after the payment is received to file for divorce may save significant litigation on the issue.

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The end of the calendar year generates a plethora of year-end financial statements. Depending on the finances in each case, the parties can receive year-end paystubs, W-2 statements, student loan statements, statements from any investment accounts, statements from any retirement accounts, etc. Gathering all of this updated financial information can help the divorce process move smoothly. Parties have the opportunity to gather bank statements, tax records, draw up budgets, request mortgage statements and credit card balances before filing. These statements will be utilized to prepare Income and Expense Declarations and Schedules of Assets and Debts. Separating at the beginning of a calendar year can represent a new beginning and clean break for the parties.

Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Please contact us if you are considering legal separation, divorce, or need advice regarding child custody matters.. Nancy J. Bickford is the only attorney in San Diego representing clients in divorces, who is a Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) and who is actively licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Call 858-793-8884 for a consultation appointment today.

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