In any profession, there are things you don’t learn until you get on the job. Once you’ve been practicing family law for a number of years, you start to notice a pattern in divorce filings throughout the year. The number of divorce filings tends to pick up at the start of the year, peaking in March.
What factors drive divorce rates?
There are a variety of possible reasons for the pattern, some of them social and psychological in nature. However, finances are often a common driver of divorce, and such issues can impact the timing of a divorce filing. Here are some of the common financial issues that can come into play:
- First quarter payouts: Some people may wait for a divorce until the beginning of the year in order to make sure they can claim a portion of their spouse’s annual bonus.
- Taxes: Filing in the first several months of the year also allows couples to have a cleaner cut-off point for tax purposes.
- Estate: One spouse may choose to postpone their divorce filing if their spouse is set to receive a large inheritance.
- Economic booms: If a spouse’s company is about to receive a windfall or go public, it may inform the timing of a divorce filing.
- Social Security: If the financially weaker spouse has not yet reached the age at which they are eligible to receive Social Security retirement benefits, this could make a difference in the timing of a divorce filing.
Your financial situation is fluid. It’s important to understand how the timing of a divorce filing can impact your assets and obligations.