Divorcing During The Holidays.
It’s that time of year again. Holiday lights are twinkling…. Stockings are getting hung…. Family celebration plans are rounding into form…. And the sound of Christmas music fills the airwaves far and wide (okay, let’s be honest, that started as soon as the last “Trick or Treat” was uttered several weeks ago). But, with so much festivity and reverence for family traditions, it’s also the time that many of us might be asking, “Is filing for divorce during the holidays a good idea? Or should I wait?”
The Holidays – Reasons why people wait to start a divorce.
I typically hear two reasons why people want to wait.
First, because initiating a divorce over the holidays means it might “ruin” the last family holiday together.
Second, because while so much has gone wrong lately, maybe this will be the last-best opportunity to “turn it around.”
Let’s take each of these reasons in turn… Regarding the former, if you and your spouse have come to the realization that your marriage is over, but the two of you can still be civil toward one another, then maybe it’s okay to wait. As the latter, I’m sorry to say that if you have gotten to this point (where you are researching divorce attorneys’ websites), then it is not likely that a little holiday cheer will be enough (sadly) to save your marriage – marriage counseling with a licensed therapist is probably the better route.
Divorce takes time.
The reality is that getting divorced from your spouse takes time. In Wisconsin, it takes a minimum of 4 months from the date that you file to see a judge for your first pretrial hearing. Many divorces take up to a year to finalize (some even longer)! So, while many prefer to wait until after the holidays, it is often better to “get the ball rolling” from a procedural standpoint rather than delaying the inevitable.
What about the kids?
If you are concerned about the tone that may be set when you file a divorce around the holidays, your attorney can assist by suggesting ways to keep matters civil and respectful between you and your spouse. Notifying your children of a divorce between their parents is always difficult. Consider, however, that because the divorce process takes considerable time, it is not imperative to notify them immediately. Parents often wait to tell their children until they have each consulted with their attorneys, and have crafted a plan to share the divorce details with their children together.
It may be time to begin the divorce process now.
In the end, divorce does not need to be a battle. If it is “time” to get divorced, then it is often better to begin the process now rather than wait, and your attorney can assist with developing ways to ensure the process is both relatively peaceful and also considerate of your family’s needs (no matter what time of year). And if you have chosen to file during the holidays, you will likely find it easier to re-focus on your family, and celebrating what is important. In the end, it is better to spend the holidays enjoying eggnog than walking on eggshells!
Geoff Seufert, a Family Law Attorney, lives in the Lake Country area of Wisconsin. He focuses his practice in the communities of Hartland, Pewaukee, Oconomowoc and Delafield. Geoff has 15 years of experience in divorce, child custody & support, and divorce mediation.