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More people file for divorce in January

According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the number of divorce filings in the month of January is usually about one-third the normal rate. If you are considering filing for divorce after the holidays, you should have a plan in place.

There may be many reasons why more people file for divorce in January. Some couples may have been reluctant to file for divorce during the holidays, particularly if they have children. Others may simply want a fresh start in the New Year. Regardless of the reason, filing for divorce can be a scary prospect.

Before your file the divorce papers, there are steps you should take. First and foremost, you should make sure that getting a divorce is what you want to do. Many people file for divorce while emotions are still running high. Consider speaking with others to ensure that you are making the decision with a clear head. A therapist can be particularly helpful in sorting through your emotions and goals.

You should also understand all of the financial implications of filing for divorce. For example, any property that you or your spouse acquired during the marriage is considered marital property under Massachusetts law. The law requires all marital property to be divided equitably.

Another example of a financial implication is your tax filing status. This is determined by the status of the marriage on December 31st. If your divorce is not final by that date, you are still considered to be married in the eyes of the IRS and must file your tax return accordingly. In order to have a clear picture of these and any other financial implications, start gathering all of your important financial records.

Finally, you should understand what filing for divorce entails—and costs. If you and your spouse have a contentious divorce, you could end up spending a lot of time and money in the courtroom. An attorney who has experience in family law can help you understand the process of going through a divorce, from filing the paperwork to the final hearing.

The bottom line is that divorce can be stressful. Make sure that you seek the help you need as you move into the New Year.

Source: MarketWatch, “Divorcing in 2016? Get your affairs in order first,” Quentin Fottrell, Dec. 12, 2015

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