A January Divorce

By Kristin M. Davin Psy.D

January is known for many things – self-reflection, resolutions, and depending on where you live – many cold, long, and dark days.

And divorce.

January has become known as Divorce month – but decisions made about divorce occur way before the month of January rolls around. Often the decision to stay or go often occurs some time throughout the year, with a more final decision made in the fall. However, people wait until January to take the necessary steps to walk away from the marriage.

Many couples ‘on the brink’ decide to keep it together for the children and the rest of the family until after the holidays. Why make things more difficult during an already difficult and stressed time of the year? If a couple or one half of a couple decides to divorce because they have come to that conclusion, they figure, what’s another month? Not much when you really stop and think about it – especially for such a major and life altering decision, such as divorce.

Year-end reflections often come in the form of unhappy spouses who assess their situation and say to themselves, ‘I just can’t take another year like this. I’m out.’ I cannot do this anymore. I don’t want to do this anymore. How can I make my life better? Because the holidays are a time where emotions run high, an unhappy marriage pushes those feelings to the breaking point.

“People don’t want to be accused by friends and family that they were heartless right before Christmas,” says Miles Mason, a Memphis-based family and divorce lawyer. Holding off until January makes them seem a little more thoughtful in the eyes of their loved ones.

For some, they wait until the end of the year bonus, a portion of which can be claimed as an asset from a spouse so that waiting until January will not interfere with tax filings. Some people consult with an attorney before the holidays to get the basics – costs, options, effects on life changes, etc. Other people call an attorney or seek out counsel out of pain. They realize that what they have is not what they want. And they want something different.

They really do.

Although there is rarely, if ever, a ‘perfect’ time to get a divorce however there are times that are better than others. However, regardless of when you choose to get divorced, a key factor in all of this is to make sure you are making a rational decision rather than making a decision when you are overly emotional about your marriage. For example, if you are reacting out of pain and want that pain to go away right now, getting divorced may not be the right answer – at that moment.

Taking a step back; evaluating your situation for what it is and, more importantly, what it isn’t – will allow you the space and time to make a decision about your marriage and divorce under conditions that allow for clear thinking and decisions. When we make a decision – any decision – when we are in pain, have been hurt, or feel extremely vulnerable, it can backfire and be counterintuitive. This isn’t to say to not get a divorce, but to make sure that you make this very important decision when you are in the best frame of mind possible – because divorce is hard enough.

Divorce is seldom an easy decision, January or otherwise.

Kristin M. Davin, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist
Divorce Mediator

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