January Meets Divorce

January has unofficially been dubbed Divorce Month and many legal experts believe that the reason for this trend boils down to one idea: the holidays. 

Reason

People don’t want to get divorced during the holidays. If couples, especially those with children, have started to consider divorce before the holidays, they make a point of staying married through the end of the year so their family can have one last holiday season together. Rather than filing for a divorce on Christmas Day, and in the process, traumatizing the children to remember Christmas as the ‘time mom and dad got a divorce’.

Myth or Reality

This trend is not just an urban myth, and lawyers definitely notice the month difference. Clients who have been on the fence about whether to file a divorce or simply discuss it, may use January as a starting point to move forward with the process. Although it might seem strange that so many people think about dissolving their marriage at the same time, divorce stems from self-evaluation that comes with the new year. Many people make New Year’s resolutions to put their personal lives in order, even if that includes ending an unhealthy marriage.

So if you are filing for divorce this month, follow these steps:

  • First, some states do have laws that allow a couple to participate in a legal separation, which means that couples can separate legally when one or the other spouse leaves the family residence.
  • If your state doesn’t have laws that allow a legal separation, your next step would be to contact your attorney or file a petition with the courts to request a hearing so that a temporary separation agreement can be ordered.
  • The party filing for divorce, named the “petitioner”, will have to state a reason as part of the petition or letter, and in most states, this will be “irreconcilable differences” or “incompatibility.”
  • The original petition or letter of complaint is then served normally by a local sheriff’s office to the other party or “respondent”. 
  • Once the respondent has been served he/she has thirty days to hire an attorney and respond; at the same time, either party may ask for restraining orders, protective orders, or temporary orders pertaining to child support and alimony.
  • These orders are legally binding and not following them will mean finding yourself in contempt of court, which means you can be jailed or fined according to the discretion of the judge.

After taking these initial steps, the next phase would be the discovery, or the pre-trial phase of divorce in which each side obtains evidence and information from the other side; such as: interrogatories, requests for production documents, requests for admissions, depositions and subpoenas.

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