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A Fresh Start: Why Couples Often Divorce in January


It’s a time for new beginnings, an end to bad habits and, for many folks, the last chapter of their marriage. Online searches for divorce peak between Jan. 6th and Jan. 12, with the end of December showing an uptick in those seeking information on uncoupling as well.

In our experience as New Jersey divorce lawyers, divorce is somewhat seasonal, with January, March and September being common times to file. Often the clients we meet in January for an initial consultation do not file officially until March. In September, it is often families of children who don’t want to disrupt their summer schedules, so they wait until the kids return to school.

Many people put off divorcing during the holidays, especially if they have children. Some want to give their kids one last holiday season together. For others, the stress of the holidays is a breaking point for an already-strained marriage. Still others get swept up in the reverie of it all and see it as an opportunity to give it one last chance to work. In any case, those who have been seriously thinking about it for a while are more inclined to initiate divorce proceedings at the start of the new year, with an eye toward resolutions and getting their personal lives in order. Ending an unhealthy union in January can be largely symbolic.

But there are other reasons people choose this month. Among those:

  • Taxes. Couples who are married even a day in January have the advantage of filing a joint tax return for the whole year. There can be many benefits to this. Higher-earning spouses who file jointly with a spouse may qualify for a lower federal income tax bracket compared to if they filed a single return. That could mean a lower tax bill and possibly even a refund. Beyond that, certain deductions and tax credits are available only for married couples who file jointly. You may be able to claim a larger capital loss deduction when filing jointly. You may also be able to take larger deductions on retirement account contributions. Plus, filing a joint tax return can be easier and less expensive.
  • Housing markets. Spring is usually considered the best time of year to sell a home – specifically, the first few weeks in May. Some industry insiders claim homes sell an average of 19 days faster in May compared to other months – and for 6 percent more money. Tax refunds in the first few months of the year mean more people have additional capital to buy, plus curb appeal improves in the spring. Also, the timing is often less disruptive to kids because it means they’re less likely to have to disrupt their school year. Filing for divorce in January means you may be able to time putting the family home or other assets on the market by spring.
  • Financial implications. In any New Jersey divorce, the date of separation and the actual date of divorce are important when it comes to valuating assets. If a higher-earning spouse typically receives a sizable year-end bonus at work, it might be advantageous for the other to delay divorce until after the new year because that bonus will then be subject to equitable distribution.
  • Paperwork. The close of the calendar year is a time when many people update their accounting and financial statements. That means the parties involved have all fresh, up-to-date copies of the relevant information they’ll need to ensure their divorce goes smoothly.

If you are considering filing for divorce in East Brunswick, our New Jersey divorce lawyers can help.

Call Rozin|Golinder Law, LLC today at (732) 810-0034 for a free and confidential consultation.