It’s a trend we’ve seen for years. Divorce filings spike right after the winter holidays and right after summer vacation. That’s because many couples don’t want to ruin Christmas or wreck family time together in the summer. But there’s a lot more that should go into timing decisions—considerations that can make a big difference in the outcome.
The first three factors surround finances.
First, if you have any fluctuation in your income (e.g., you’re a contract worker or get performance-based bonuses) and can wait it out, file in a year when you have lower income. While courts will look at average income over the past few years, a year when you bring in less will work to your advantage when it’s time to negotiate child support, maintenance or certain property division decisions.
Second, if you’re looking to file after the holidays, or even in the latter half of the year, you may want to wait until after Dec. 31 in order to file joint taxes. Generally, joint filers receive one of the largest standard deductions and qualify for more exemptions and credits, such as earned income tax credit or higher IRA contribution deductions, among others. A trusted accountant can help you see more specifically the implications for you.
Third, if you file before your spouse, you may have a little more control in the process. It assures that you have all your financial and other documents together when the time comes which can reduce the possibility of your spouse raiding your joint accounts—and ensure you have evidence if that does happen.
The final factor centers around making your divorce easier. If your children are close to leaving the nest—and you can wait—put off divorce until after the children leave. That will relieve you of custody and placement decisions that often are the most contentious issues in a divorce.
Of course, everyone’s circumstances are unique, and decisions surrounding divorce are often layered and complicated. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you weigh the pros and cons of your situation, so you can make the decisions that are best for you and your family.
By Sonja Davig, La Crosse Divorce Lawyer at Johns, Flaherty & Collins. For a divorce lawyer in La Crosse WI, call her at 608-784-5678.