There is no great time to get divorced. Going through a divorce is a stressful season of life and no timing is perfect. However, anecdotally, there are data patterns that show that divorce rates increase in March and August. Some of this may be due to feeling a desire to have “one last holiday together as a family”, or take “one last trip as a couple to try and sort things out.” And when it appears things can’t be sorted out after Christmas or a summer vacation, that’s when most people move to officially file for divorce.
So most people file for divorce in March or August, does that mean those are better times to get divorced? Not necessarily. The reasons for a divorce are deeply personal, and the best timing is going to vary couple to couple. In short, the best time to get divorced is going to depend on your specific life situations. Here are some scenarios that often lead to divorce, and some ways to navigate the timing of divorce to try and mitigate some of the stress:
Divorcing at or near retirement
We talked last week about the rise in grey divorce and grey divorce issues; what we didn’t fully touch on was how complicated settling your financial affairs can be if you and your spouse are entitled to each others’ retirement. When a significant amount of money is involved, such as your retirement or pension, it is best to consult with a divorce attorney who is knowledgeable about your state laws and precedents around retirement and divorce. You need to have a good understanding of your current finances, and how they might be affected during and after divorce, before jumping to file for divorce. One or both of you may have a pension benefit, retirement benefits, and real estate holdings that will be subject to community property laws. The longer you are married, the more complex the division of assets will become. Make sure that you work with a lawyer that has experience with gray divorce to ensure that you get an equitable distribution of assets.
Divorcing because of an affair
If you are, or are considering, being unfaithful to your spouse, you need to pause and consider what you want. It’s not going to go well for you in court if it is revealed that you tried to have it both ways, keeping your family and your affair in the dark from each other. If you are truly unhappy in your marriage and desire to move on with someone new, then take steps now to begin the divorce process before you start or continue on with an affair. While it may be more uncomfortable to address your discontent with your spouse head on, it is the honest thing to do and will allow you to walk away from the marriage with integrity. Taking a period of time to deal with your marriage and divorce will allow you to truly move on with someone new after you have separated from or divorced your spouse.
Divorcing due to abuse
If you or your children are dealing with abuse and domestic violence, the best time to file for divorce is now. You need to get yourself and your children out of the unsafe situation and away from your spouse as soon as possible. And that’s not just for the benefit of your physical and emotional wellbeing; unfortunately there can be a bias against parents or partners who “stayed too long.” Continuing to keep your children in an unsafe situation for a lengthy time can work against you in the divorce proceedings and child custody decisions, depending on how the judge looks at your case. If you are in immediate danger, get help right away and take steps to get out as soon as you can. Find a good divorce attorney and file for divorce as soon as you are safe or in a secure location.
If there is no physical violence, but there is a high level of conflict, anger, and contention in your marriage, then it is probably best to take a hard look at whether or not you want to continue in your marriage. Abuse doesn’t have to be physical to cause harm, and if marital conflict frequently escalates to verbal abuse from your spouse, then it would be wise to speak with a lawyer right away.
Divorcing when you share a business, home, or property
Negotiating the terms of divorce can be very tricky when there are complex finances and properties tied up in your marriage. You need to find ways to ensure that your assets are protected, but sharing assets makes that process complicated.
If you are privately considering a divorce but simultaneously starting a business or buying a home with your spouse, then you need to pump the brakes. Hold off on any big financial decisions so that you and your spouse can sort out your feelings about the marriage. If you do decide to divorce, it will only complicate things more if you just signed on a house or made a big purchase that will be considered marital property.
If you are determined to divorce regardless of shared property and marital assets, consult with divorce lawyers who are experienced in this area. Division of property is complex, and the more assets you share the more you will need to rely on an experienced family law attorney with a successful record.
Divorcing when there are kids involved
Divorce is never easy on kids and how they handle it will differ depending on the developmental stage they are in. Some couples may choose to put their differences and discomforts on hold for a certain period of time and wait until after the kids are out of the house to initiate the divorce proceedings. Other couples may find the living situation so untenable that they agree that divorcing amicably before things get worse would be better for all involved.
Again, this depends on your personal situation. When you have minor children, you and your spouse will have to navigate sharing child custody and co-parenting, both during and after the divorce. Just because you divorce them doesn’t necessarily mean that they will suddenly be out of your life. You will have to work it out and make a parenting plan, either together, in mediation, or through your lawyers, for how to manage the complexities of providing for your children until they come of age.
At Torrone Law, we offer expert legal services and compassionate counsel. Whatever season of life you are in when you are considering divorce, we can support you and get you to the other side. Contact us today for a free consultation to see how we can help you.
For quick answers regarding the best time to navigate divorce, check out our frequently asked questions below.
When is the best time to divorce?
There is no cookie-cutter answer to this, but the best time to divorce is generally when you no longer find it possible to continue with your marriage, and you have a good sense of how the divorce will affect your marital assets, your financial future, and your family if you have children.
Is there a common time when people get divorced?
Trends suggest that the majority of people initiate the divorce process either just after the holidays, or at the end of summer. This may be in an effort to preserve one last season of family holiday memories, or an effort to give the relationship one last chance during a vacation when you aren’t distracted by stressors in your everyday life.
Is there any reason why someone should not delay a divorce?
If you or someone you know is in an abusive marriage or otherwise unsafe situation, then divorce needs to be something that is moved on immediately. It is not worth it to stay in an unsafe or abusive environment for any reason.