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January is often touted as “Divorce Month” due to the influx of divorce filings at the start of the new year. So why the flood of filings? The holiday season can cause a lot of stress for couples due to mounting expenses, spending increased time with extended family and in-laws, and the pressure of meeting social and professional obligations for attending get-togethers and parties. Kids add more stress to the equation as they also have gifts to purchase and events to attend, which often require additional money. The holiday season can often serve as “the last straw” if tensions have been mounting throughout the year. We also frequently hear the story that one spouse decided to divorce later in the year, but waited to file until after the holidays to avoid rocking the boat for children, family, and friends.
January brings with it a feeling of new beginnings. While some may make a resolution to ride it out another year, others decide it’s time to call it quits. Filing for divorce can signify a fresh start. Filing in January can also greatly increase your chances of having the divorce finalized by the next holiday season, particularly if you have children or a complicated estate.
If you are considering filing for divorce, here are answers to some of our frequently asked questions:
• Does it matter when I file?
When you file can have financial implications. The date of filing operates as a snap shot of your financial standing for the divorce. The court will value your marital estate based on the date you file for divorce.
• What if all of our bank accounts are separate?
In Indiana, all assets are pooled in the marital estate. The state has the presumption that assets will be split 50/50, regardless of whose name is on the account.
• What happens while the divorce is pending?
The court can have a hearing on preliminary matters, or the parties can reach an agreement on the issues. This agreement can include parenting time and other child related issues, who will remain in the marital residence, who will be responsible for what bill, and who will drive what car.
• Will I have to go to court?
It depends. Many divorce cases settle outside of court through informal settlement negotiations or mediation.
• Why do I need a lawyer?
There is more than meets the eye in a divorce. Failing to hire an attorney can mean that you lose out on some of your rights. Many people are unaware of what they are entitled to out of the marital estate. Spouses frequently come in claiming that they are in agreement on all issues, but once an attorney starts asking the hard hitting questions disagreements can come to light.
It is particularly important to hire an attorney if you have children involved. Attorneys can facilitate negotiations and alleviate the potential for adversarial confrontations regarding the children.
Of course, everyone’s situation is unique. The decision to end a marriage is a very personal one and the time of year makes little difference in the outcome for the parties involved. If you are considering filing for divorce, it is important that you speak with an experienced family law divorce attorney who can advise you of your legal rights and options. Contact us for a free consultation.