Blog Post

It’s Christmas, I want a Divorce

For better or worse, the holidays often inspire people to make major life changes, and this includes deciding divorce. Whether it’s the stress of the holidays accelerating a breaking point in a relationship or the realization that the feelings of joy and connection that are usually a part of the experience are missing, the heightened emotions of the holidays can be pivotal. Whether you are at a starting point, or you are in the middle of the divorce process, the timing of the holidays can be problematic. Rather than move forward, here are some critical considerations.

Don’t Be a Scrooge. Wait Until the Holidays Are Over to Ask for A Divorce

The holidays are not an optimal time to bring up divorce. Even if it feels like the marriage is over, some of these feelings may be the stress of the holidays talking. Heightened expectations, stress about finances, and other challenges are part of holidays. It is a better idea to wait until a calmer moment to broach the subject. In addition, the holidays are traditionally associated with joy, togetherness, and celebration. Suggesting such a major change, and the likely underlying negative reasons, amidst holiday cheer can cast a shadow over the festivities, leaving lasting negative memories for all involved. The timing may exacerbate emotional distress, making it harder for family members, especially children, to cope with the changes.

The season “to be jolly” often involves extended family gatherings, adding complexity and potential awkwardness to an already challenging situation. Your support network, including your friends and family, will be distracted and unavailable to be there for you, and they may be resentful of having to focus on you instead of the celebrations. This can put undue strain on pivotal relationships that you will need as you move forward with the divorce. Choosing a more neutral time for such serious discussions can foster a more considerate and compassionate environment, allowing everyone involved to process the news without the added stress of holiday expectations.

The Financial Cost of Divorce

The end-of-the-year holidays often involve increased spending on gifts, travel, and festive activities. Introducing the complexities of divorce proceedings during this time can exacerbate financial strain, as resources may already be stretched thin. Legal fees, potential changes in living arrangements, and the division of assets can add an additional layer of expense to an already high-cost season. Budgeting for separation and divorce will be easier after the holidays are over.

End of Year Includes Tax Considerations

If you’ve been married and filing jointly with your spouse, a divorce will change how you file your taxes. It also may change your income tax bracket. The IRS looks to your marital status as of December 31 to determine how you should be taxed for the entire year. For example, if your spouse is a high earner, your income tax for the year may be much lower if you finalize your divorce before the end of the year. Conversely, you may find yourself with a much higher tax bill if you no longer combine incomes with a lower-earning spouse, and you would be better off waiting to finalize in the new year. If you are reaching the end of the divorce process with your spouse, make sure to review the potential tax consequences of filing before or after December 31 before proceeding with obtaining a divorce decree.

Thank you for reading our blog! 

If you need legal representation in Maryland or the District of Columbia, consider contacting Malech Law. With over 25 years of experience, we are committed to providing excellent service to our clients. Our accolades include the 2024 Family Law American Association of Attorney Advocates recognition, being a finalist in the 2024 Best of Bethesda Readers’ Pick for Best Family Law Practitioner, and winning the same award in 2022. We’ve also been honored with the Lawyers of Distinction Award for Excellence in Divorce and Family Law for the past five consecutive years. At Malech Law, we approach every case with respect, empathy, and a dedication to excellence. Contact us today for professional legal assistance.

Visit Malechlaw.com or call (202) 441-2107.

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