Why Divorce is More Common in January: Your Pre-Divorce Checklist and the Dangers of Delaying in North Carolina

January is known by many Americans as the month with the highest number of divorces. Although this is something of an oversimplification, there is some truth to this. And if you are approaching a divorce in January, you might be well aware of this. But what is it about January that causes so many people to file for divorce? Is it just a coincidence? Does it have something to do with the waning of the moon or the Earth’s orbit around the sun? The truth might surprise you.

Most Spouses Do Not Want to Divorce Over the Holidays

First of all, most spouses do not want to divorce over the holidays. Some might even see this is as religiously or culturally taboo. These winter months are considered sacred or holy for a number of religions, including Judaism and Christianity. Many spouses do not want to “ruin” the holidays by announcing their divorce at a time when the rest of the family is trying to celebrate. They may also see this as embarrassing, and so they prefer to doggedly make it through the holidays with an outward appearance of happiness before announcing their divorce in January.

The Holidays Can Make Existing Issues More Obvious

Many spouses are in denial about their relationship issues. These issues might be less obvious throughout most of the year – especially if both spouses work full-time. But during the holidays, these issues suddenly come to the forefront. Spouses can no longer ignore their failing marriage when they’re forced to spend most of the day together. Bottled-up emotions suddenly come out, and spouses must confront their issues. The result is predictable: Many marriages will fail due to arguments during the holidays, and divorces increase in January as a result.

The Holidays Can Cause Arguments About Money

The holidays can be very stressful for families – even those who have stable relationships. Financial limitations cause many families to experience considerable stress, and these limitations only become more obvious during the holidays. Whether it’s buying presents for the family or shopping for that elaborate Christmas dinner, the holidays can take a serious toll on your bank account. When January rolls in and the economic consequences make their presence known, many families fall apart. Arguments over money can drive couples apart, which is one of the many reasons why divorces in January are so common.

Divorce at the Beginning of the Year Makes Sense for Tax Purposes

But divorces in January may occur for much more logical reasons. Some spouses wait until January because it makes taxes much easier. By beginning the separation on the first of January, you do not need to worry about the implications of being single half the year. Instead, you can file your taxes as a single adult for the following year without any awkward calculations. Spouses who decide to split amicably often decide that January is the best month.

The Holidays Represent a “Last Chance” for Many Couples

Finally, the holiday season may be seen as a “last chance” for many couples who are on the verge of divorce. A spouse who faces the possibility of an ending marriage may promise their partner that things will get better. They might beg their spouse to give them one more chance. The holidays may represent a last attempt to make changes and fix the marriage. If the holidays create positive memories and remind spouses how much they care about each other, the marriage might be saved. If this final attempt fails, then the spouses have no choice but to pursue a divorce in January.

Does the Reason for Your Divorce Even Matter?

While the increase in divorces in January is an interesting topic, the reason for your divorce doesn’t really matter in North Carolina. This is because you can pursue a “no-fault” divorce in the Tar Heel State while citing “irreconcilable differences” as your grounds for divorce.

Your Pre-Divorce Checklist in North Carolina

If you are heading for a divorce, it may seem like a million different thoughts are running through your mind at once. On the one hand, you have all of the various emotional and psychological concerns that often arise during this difficult time. On the other hand, you have all of the logistical, legal, and financial problems that you suddenly have to deal with. It may be very difficult to adopt an organized, professional mindset during this time. But if you manage to calmly deal with the various hurdles you face, you will set the foundation for successful divorce. Easier said than done, right?

One of the best things to do in this situation is to create a checklist. This goal-driven approach helps you approach the upcoming hurdles with a sense of structure and organization. This allows you to deal with the situation confidently, even if you are currently dealing with debilitating psychological and emotional issues due to your divorce. Simply go through each section one-by-one, and you might feel more productive and confident about your future.

The best way to get started with your divorce is to get in touch with an experienced divorce attorney in North Carolina. Our legal professionals can help you strive for solid results – even if your divorce is still in its beginning stages. Once you make contact with a legal professional, you can immediately start to act in a constructive, efficient manner. Our lawyers can carefully assess your situation during a consultation before providing targeted, personalized advice. From there, you can start to put the pieces in place that will ensure a positive outcome. It is best to get in touch with an attorney as soon as possible if you know you are heading for divorce.

Gather Documents

First, you need to gather as many important documents as possible. These might be mortgage statements, income statements, tax returns, or anything else that you think may be important. Remember, many decisions are based on financial evidence, such as how much your spouse earned during the marriage, the existence of certain assets, the value of your home, and so on. After speaking with an attorney, you can determine exactly what you should be looking for, and which documents you should be saving.

Take an Inventory of Assets

Another positive step is to take an inventory of as many assets you can locate. Pay particularly close attention to household items such as jewelry, collectibles, precious metal, cash, art pieces, and anything else that might mysteriously “go missing” when a divorce is clear. By photographing and itemizing these assets, you can prove their existence during the property division process (which comes much later). In addition, you might also want to search for assets that are easily concealable or hidden, such as cryptocurrency wallets.

Change Passwords

Another obvious step is to change all of your passwords – paying special attention to banking apps, PayPal, social media, email, and any other online platform that might give your spouse access to sensitive information. If you are heading for divorce, you should keep your private life as private as possible. Otherwise, your spouse could use certain information against you in court.

Deal With Your Bank Accounts

If you and your spouse have joint accounts, now is the time to create a separate financial presence. Create your own separate bank account, apply for your own credit cards, and sever all financial ties with your spouse. The sooner the better, as it may take time to build up credit and get your finances in order.

Consider Your Will or Trust

If you have a will, a trust, or a life insurance policy, now is the time to remove your spouse as a beneficiary. The sooner you do this the better, as you never know what the future may bring.

Speak With Your Spouse About Collaborative Divorce

Finally, you might want to have a quick conversation with your spouse about how you would like to handle the divorce. One option is a collaborative divorce, which is cheaper, quicker, more flexible, and more private compared to typical litigated divorce. Both spouses have to agree on this course of action, however, so it is best to broach the topic right away.

The Dangers of Delaying a Divorce

Divorce is a major decision for spouses in North Carolina. In fact, it is such a big decision that many spouses prefer to procrastinate and delay for years until they finally get around to taking legal action. On the one hand, this is totally understandable. After all, no one likes to be confronted with the fact that their marriage is no longer viable, and in many ways, ignoring the issue is easier than confronting it – at least in the short term. Many spouses might also have completely valid reasons for avoiding a divorce, such as the fear of retaliation from their partners and the safety of their children.

But as you will see, delaying a divorce can have dangerous consequences. Although simply “getting on with life” and ignoring the problem can provide some short-term relief, it is not a viable long-term strategy. In fact, it can cause issues to become worse over time – potentially exposing your family to increased danger. And although ending a marriage certainly puts psychological strain on everyone (including the children), trying to keep a relationship going when it is clearly not working can lead to even worse mental health issues. So, what exactly are the dangers of delaying a divorce?

Delays Can Lead to Family Violence

There are countless stories of spouses that have delayed a necessary divorce – only to experience family violence because they failed to get out of a dangerous relationship. One of the most notable recent examples involves an Irish family who was living in North Carolina in 2015. They originally married in Tennessee – but only weeks after the ceremony, the wife was at a divorce lawyer’s office, inquiring about her custody rights to her new husband’s children. Her name is Ms. Martens, and she allegedly requested that her new husband – Mr. Corbett – sign adoption papers giving her equal rights to her children.

Mr. Corbett repeatedly refused to grant her these rights. Years later, Mr. Corbett was found dead in his own home, beaten to death with a baseball bat and a concrete paving slab. Ms. Martens’ father – Tom Martens – claims that he saw Corbett holding his daughter by the neck and acted in self-defense when he struck him with the baseball bat. However, police at the scene discovered no marks on Martens’ neck – despite her obvious attempts to “vigorously rub” her neck to create such markings. Forensic evidence put forth by the prosecution suggests that Corbett was attacked while sleeping in his bed. There is also evidence that the father and daughter waited until Corbett was dead before calling emergency services.

Whatever the case may be, this story should serve as a clear example of why it’s never a good idea to simply “accept your lot in life” and delay a divorce. Both spouses had the opportunity to move forward with a divorce, and Ms. Martens even visited a divorce attorney prior to her husband’s death. There is also evidence that Corbett was becoming increasingly alarmed at his wife’s “bizarre” behavior and that he planned to take his children back to Ireland.

If either spouse had simply taken legal action and moved forward with a divorce instead of delaying the inevitable, this situation might have been avoided. Crucially, the children in the marriage would still have the ability to visit both their parents. Today, however, there is a strong possibility that the children will never see their mother – or their grandfather – again if they are convicted of murder. Because of this, they may face the rest of their lives without either parent.

Financial Consequences of Delaying a Divorce

Although family violence is perhaps the most negative consequence of delaying a divorce, there are many others to consider. If you delay, your spouse might have the opportunity to conceal assets and engage in various other financial strategies to protect their wealth. This can make it more difficult to receive your fair share when you file for divorce.

Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today

If you have been searching for an experienced divorce attorney in North Carolina, look no further than Arnold & Smith, PLLC. We know that ending a marriage is never an easy process, but you are not alone in this battle. With our help, you can make the right decision for you and the entire family, reducing consequences that can become worse with needless delays. We can assist with virtually every aspect of your divorce, including gathering evidence, negotiating for a divorce settlement, and representing you in court. Book your consultation today to get started with an effective action plan.