ATLANTA, Ga – Family law attorneys in Atlanta know to expect an uptick in divorce cases greeting them as they return to work this week.
“Most of us start the new year with resolutions to make a change for the better, like lose weight or exercise,” said Jon Hedgepeth, a partner in the Atlanta firm of Hedgepeth, Heredia & Rieder. “But for some people, their firmest resolution is to seek a divorce as soon as the new year begins.”
Divorce filings jump by one-third each January, according to statistics compiled by MarketWatch, and there are usually several motives that drive the post-holiday divorce rush.
“Parents who are considering divorce in the summer or fall may put it off as kids adjust to a new school year,” Hedgepeth said. “A few months later they’re anticipating the holiday season and decide to give the kids one last Christmastime as an intact family.
“By January, with the holidays over and children firmly established in the school routine again, parents may feel things have stabilized enough that the kids will be better able to handle the disruption of a divorce.”
Timing a divorce with the happiness of the kids in mind could be a good start to what can be a contentious process.
Another reason couples wait a little longer is that in order to file jointly for taxes, they must be married on Dec. 31, Hedgepeth said. “Waiting until the beginning of the new year to file makes untangling commingled finances a little bit easier, and makes January an even more attractive target,” he said.
People in an unhappy marriage who interact with each other as little as possible most of the year often find themselves in close quarters for extended periods during the holidays, when escaping to work isn’t an option.
“For those couples, the long-pending decision to divorce can crystallize suddenly,” Hedgepeth said. “The abrupt decision made during a seemingly endless holiday results in a phone call to a lawyer as soon as possible, when everyone has returned to a normal schedule after the holidays.”
All of these factors seem to make January a perfect storm for uncoupling.