If the calendar year is coming to a close and you and your spouse have decided to divorce, you may be wondering if it’s better to wait until the New Year to file your papers. The answer to this question is: “It depends!” Depending on the age of your children, it may be easier on them to defer speaking about divorce until after the holidays have passed and the New Year has begun. In terms of tax implications, if you and your spouse wish to have one more year of married filing jointly status, it may also make sense to wait until after the New Year.
However, depending on where you live and your own personal family situation, you will want to consult with a divorce attorney regarding any changes in state or federal laws that will take effect on January 1 and how any of that will impact you and your spouse’s decision.
Reasons to Wait Until the New Year to File for Divorce
Your marital status on December 31 of each year determines your tax filing status options for that year. If you remain married on December 31, you can file a married joint return for that tax year. Before filing, start collecting all of your household’s end-of-the-year statements. Become aware of your household budget, your assets, what’s in your checking account, your mortgage payment, and all of your debts and your credit card balances.
Some people wait until the New Year so that they can remain on a spouse’s health insurance plan.
However, with health insurance being available through the state and federal healthcare insurance marketplace, this may not be as significant a reason depending on which state you reside in.
If your spouse is expecting an end-of-year bonus or cash windfall, waiting until after the end of the year to file can have it classified as marital property, meaning that it should be shared as part of the distribution of marital property. While you can’t necessarily control when your divorce will be finalized or how the court or divorce mediation process will divide your assets, you can still have control over the day you file the papers.
Many couples wait to file divorce papers until the New Year as they do not want make an announcement that could negatively impact the holidays. While it’s important to try to provide a positive, happy holiday environment for your children, if your marriage has deteriorated to such a level that you and your spouse cannot maintain a reasonably amicable relationship, you may want to find a way to spend the holidays somewhat apart, even if you haven’t had the conversation with your children about the divorce yet.
Reasons to Not Wait Until the New Year to File for Divorce
Current Value of Assets
Marital assets, such as cars, real estate or financial assets may have a higher or lower current value, and that could prove beneficial depending on who will be keeping that asset. Considering the current value of assets may be a strategic reason for filing for divorce before the end of the year rather than waiting until the New Year. This is an area you may wish to discuss with a divorce lawyer, financial advisor, or tax expert before making a final determination.
If you and your spouse do not have children or your children are grown and on their own, there may not be any significant reason to postpone your divorce until the New Year. In this case, if you’ve both decided to divorce, file the paperwork and finish the necessary work so you can start the New Year with a clean emotional slate.
Contact Laura Monty Law
If you or your spouse will be filing for divorce in Northern Colorado or reside in the Larimer County or Fort Collins region, and want to explore a variety of divorce options, do not hesitate to contact Laura Monty Law. We provide collaborative divorce representation, divorce mediation services, legal advising for uncontested divorces and contested divorces, and a full array of divorce and family law services to meet your family’s needs. We strongly believe in taking a compassionate approach to family law, and recognize that every situation is unique.