Lawyers call January “Divorce Month” and in our adversarial system it is a rough emotional and financial ride for a lot of people. Canada’s laws may be just, but perhaps not very gentle to families breaking-up. We convene a panel to weigh in on what should change. I was honoured to be a part of this panel. You’ll here information about……
January is known as “divorce month” to family law professionals. It’s a time where divorce filings are highest as couples holding out for the holidays start exploring their options for ending their marriages.
Canada’s divorce rate is around 40%, which means many people will have to navigate the family law system at one point in their lives.
A report released last fall by the the Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters paints a sobering picture of what that’s like: a combative and adversarial system, high costs and a lack of legal aid for those who can’t afford family lawyers.
To explore the effects of a lack of access to justice in family law, we were joined by:
- Rollie Thompson is a member of the Family Justice Working Group. He’s also a professor of law who focuses on family law and divorce at Dalhousie University.
- Sarah Bates – Divorce Consultant is a divorce coach and author of the book The Smart Divorce. She went through a divorce that lasted over 7 years. She’s been divorced for over 17 years.
- Janis Pritchard is a Collaborative Divorce Lawyer, Divorce Mediator, Managing Partner at Pritchard & Company Law Firm. She was in Medicine Hat, Alberta.
Why is January so Popular for Divorce?
Is it the frigid temperatures that have got you feeling miserable this morning? Or are you simply not in the mood to be back at work after the holidays?
If you’re feeling miserable today, you’re probably not the only one — the most depressing day of the year has come early in 2014.
While in the past ‘Blue Monday’ strikes later in the month, a U.K.-based protein drink company says we’re actually feeling most down today.
If you’re feeling miserable today, you’re probably not the only one. A U.K.-based company has named Jan. 6, the first Monday after the new year, as the most depressing day of the year.
Upbeat Drinks released its ‘Upbeat Barometer’ on Monday. The new tool, the company claims, has analyzed more than two million of tweets over the past three years to determine that today is the most depressing day of the year.
The barometer found that the first Monday back to work after the new year is the day when individuals post the most negative tweets.
The ‘blue’ theory stretches back to 2005 when psychologist Cliff Arnall was commissioned by a travel company to point out the most miserable day of the year.
The original formula looked at weather conditions, debt, the amount of time since Christmas, depression over our failed New Year’s resolutions, and the fact that most of us hate Mondays, to declare the third Monday of the month as the most depressing.
While no actual scientific studies have ever backed up any claims about Blue Monday, statistics do show that many couples may see their relationship take a depressing turn this month, as January is the most popular month for divorce.
In fact, divorcedepot.co.uk – a do-it-yourself divorce service – says the first Monday of the new year is the most popular day to file for divorce.
“Through the holidays people want to celebrate one last time with their families intact and they don’t want to their kids to associate divorce with the holidays,” divorce coach Deborah Moskovitch told CTV’s Canada AM on Monday.
However, she said once the holidays are over, it’s normal for couples to do a little “soul searching.”
“They decided this is it, I don’t want to go through another year with my partner.”
How do you protect your children during divorce?
How do you protect your children during divorce? January has been dubbed “divorce month” — and with good reason. It shows a higher number of divorce filings than any other month. Going through a divorce during the holidays can be emotionally draining, which is why many people don’t do it – they put it off until January. People don’t want to upset the status quo, rituals or routines over the holiday season; they want a peaceful Christmas, Hanukkah, festive season or happy New Year’s. They also don’t want their children to associate the holidays with their parents divorce – that certainly is putting their children’s best interest first. And then after soul searching and reflection during this time, many realize that they don’t want to spend another year with their spouse, as soon as the holidays are over they make this life changing decision, and file.
Join Deborah Moskovitch and Steve Peck as we discuss with our guest, Rosalind Sedacca smarter ways to begin the divorce process, especially when you’ve got kids. Rosalind shares with us information about International Child-Centered Divorce Month, which is commemorated every January.
January has been dubbed “divorce month” — and with good reason. It shows a higher number of divorce filings than any other month. Going through a divorce during the holidays can be emotionally draining, which is why many people don’t do it – they put it off until January. People don’t want to upset the status quo, rituals or routines over the holiday season; they want a peaceful Christmas, Hanukkah, festive season or happy New Year’s.
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Considering divorce? Good reasons to wait for January
Going through a divorce during the holidays can be emotionally wrenching, which is why many people don’t do it – they put it off until January.
“People don’t want to upset the apple cart over the holidays, and they want a peaceful Christmas, Hanukkah or New Year’s. And then, because they don’t want to spend another damned year with that spouse of theirs, as soon as the holidays are over they pull the plug and file,” says Alton Abramowitz, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
While there are no hard numbers on how many divorces are filed in January, Abramowitz says it’s undoubtedly a popular time to act, rivaled only by September, when marriages break up after the summer holidays. Yet waiting for the holidays to pass doesn’t all come down to simply wanting a harmonious holiday season. There are sound financial reasons to wait until January.
1. Waiting for the bonus
A husband or wife who waits until January is likely to be entitled to any year-end windfall that might come from a spouse’s job.
“In New York, at least, once you file for divorce and you set the cut-off date, anything you obtain afterward is separate property,” says Steven Goldfeder, a matrimonial family lawyer in New York City who acknowledges that year-end bonuses are often fought over, even if a spouse declares he or she wants a divorce in January. “Someone could claim the bonus isn’t really for that particular year, but a payment to entice someone to stay at the firm for the future.”
2. Cool your emotions
The holidays are a time when emotions run high. “If your spouse always has it in her mind that Christmas was ruined, she or he may not be so eager to settle with you,” says Goldfeder. “Your divorce might drag out for months or years longer than it would have.”
Once, shortly before Christmas, Goldfeder received a call from a client who said a co-worker had had a baby they both believed was his. The client, married and the father of three, planned to tell his wife and assumed she would leave him. Goldfeder talked him into first getting a paternity test. The client’s family had a nice Christmas, and the day after, the client learned he wasn’t the father.
Not exactly a warm holiday tale, but by cooling your emotions, you may save your family a lot of stress.
3. Avoid disastrous shopping
December is the shopping season, and that can spell disaster if an angry spouse is set loose with a credit card. “The spouse served with divorce papers may feel that they deserve some kind of emotional gift because of this horrible thing their spouse did to them,” says Kevin Worthley, a certified divorce financial analyst and certified financial planner in Warwick, Rhode Island.
An angry spouse may also be more inclined to want to drain the bank accounts and run up the credit cards. “That’s a danger any time, but past the holidays, when everything’s been bought, there’s likely less inclination to buy a big-ticket item out of revenge,” says Worthley.
4. Think about April
At year-end, taxes come to mind. “Obviously, the better records you have, the better position you’re going to be in,” says Andrew Katzenstein, a Los Angeles family lawyer, referring to paperwork that you might want to start collecting now.
Katzenstein, who specializes in assisting high-net-worth individuals, businesses and charities, says that in the past there haven’t been many tax advantages to filing for a divorce in January rather than December. Filling for divorce is just a beginning step, after all. Many couples end up filing their taxes jointly until the divorce is completed.
But tax brackets may go up in 2013, depending on whether the U.S. budget dispute is resolved. So going forward, the calculus may be different. “The person who pays alimony will get more bang for their deduction buck, and the person receiving the payments will pay more taxes,” he says.
5. More time to plan
If you’ve made up your mind that a divorce is going to be one of your New Year’s resolutions, there are things you can do now. Whatever side you end up on — paying alimony or receiving it — you need to start preparing.
“You should start collecting all of your end-of-the-year statements,” says Worthley. “You really need to know everything — your household budget, your assets, what’s in your checking account, how much you’re paying for the mortgage, all of your debts and your credit card balances. It’s important to get all of that.”
Your financial records will be needed to determine how much spousal support will be paid out, and how the finances will be divided. “The more information you get, the less complicated it’ll be when you’re negotiating and working things out with a financial family mediator, family lawyer or judge,” says Sarah Bates, a divorce coach in Toronto who counts January as her busiest month for new clients.
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January has been dubbed “divorce month
January has been dubbed “divorce month” — and with good reason. It shows a higher number of divorce filings than any other month. Going through a divorce during the holidays can be emotionally draining, which is why many people don’t do it – they put it off until January. People don’t want to upset the status quo, rituals or routines over the holiday season; they want a peaceful Christmas, Hanukkah, festive season or happy New Year’s. They also don’t want their children to associate the holidays with their parents divorce – that certainly is putting their children’s best interest first. And then after soul searching and reflection during this time, many realize that they don’t want to spend another year with their spouse, as soon as the holidays are over they make this life changing decision, and file.
While there are no hard numbers on how many divorces are filed in January, it’s undoubtedly a popular time to act, rivaled only by September, when marriages break up after the summer holidays. According to all family lawyers I have interviewed through my extensive work at The Smart Divorce this is a time when they are most busy, and my divorce coaching practice heats up as well.
If you are relating to any of this, now is the time to be SMART about your divorce. What does this mean?
Start with realistic goals and objectives. State them.
Maximize your knowledge and information.
Avoid being emotionally reactive.
Retain the best divorce team you can afford.
Treat your divorce as a business transaction.
Contact Sarah at (647) 493-1800 or complete an inquiry form to get help specific to your situation.
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