Covid-19 has disrupted many aspects of society, including divorce filings. People worried about their jobs or businesses may have delayed the beginning of the end of hopeless marriages. In other cases, the all-togetherness that the pandemic forced on households may have accelerated the inevitable. Lawyers, mediators and even the courts were caught in a situation where they had to manage cases via a new remote system. In normal times, divorce filings go through highs and lows. The month with the least divorce filings is December. If you believe that sounds logical, it is. Most people do not want to file for divorce while most everyone is celebrating from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. If the marriage is in rough shape, there often is a mentality to hold off on filing, just to “get through the holidays.” One or both spouses may even believe that the holiday season will somehow revive a damaged marriage. Postponement may feel good to someone wrapped in the tender arms of false hope.
Anecdotal evidence indicates that March and April are the months when New Jersey courts experience the highest incidents of divorce filings. New Year’s resolutions to end a marriage can cause lawyers’ and mediators’ phones to ring in January, but people often need a couple of months or more to prepare for the life-changing move. The sunny warmth of the New Jersey vernal period can also be a motivating factor, as people seek a “renewal” in their lives. The saying that a new brush sweeps clean can take on a psychological dimension that inspires a spouse to move on.
Tax season wraps up in spring, and many spouses believe it is best to wait until filing with the IRS before filing for divorce. There are tax advantages to the filing status married, filing jointly if not itemizing. The standard deduction may be higher when filing jointly as opposed to filing separately. A married couple may qualify also for certain deductions that separate filers are not allowed. If a couple is married on December 31, they are considered married for the whole year, even if that is their wedding day. If a someone is unmarried, divorced or legally separated on December 31, then s/he is disqualified from filing married, filing jointly. The status checked on an IRS return can have tax implications causing higher or lower refunds or liabilities. Consulting with a CPA is recommended before filing for divorce, especially if both spouses are earners.
April showers bring May flowers. If you or someone you know plans to file for divorce during the spring or any other time, doing some homework first is always advised. Mediators and lawyers often recommend speaking with a tax consultant when preparing to end a marriage. College costs, child custody and home selling all have seasonal considerations. The saying that timing is everything can be applied to when it is best to file for a divorce.