Think before you jump or, in this case, file.

Divorce filings surge in January as people decide to start their New Year with a clean slate, helped by a stressful holiday period and, perhaps, even more stressful in-laws, experts say, with family lawyers reporting a rise of nearly one-third in business in the New Year. John Slowiaczek, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, says he typically sees a spike of 25% to 30% every year in January. Similar trends are seen in the U.K.: one in five couples plan to divorce after the holidays, according to one survey of 2,000 spouses by legal firm Irwin Mitchell, according to Market Watch.

‘We don’t encourage someone to open their spouse’s mail. You can, however, look at the financial institution that sent the statement through the mail. If you give us those names, we can subpoena that information.’

—John Slowiaczek, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers

Being cooped up in a house for several days when a marriage is experiencing serious problems — while dealing with the pressure to put on a happy face for the kids and visiting relatives — takes its toll on the most stoic of couples. “Holiday time is usually a time when we get a spike in consultations and retentions,” says Lois Liberman, a partner at the law firm Blank Rome in New York and chair of the company’s matrimonial group. “Holiday time is usually fraught with a lot of tension, emotion and financial issues, which is usually the trigger.”

“Never file out of anger,” Slowiaczek says. “Most of the decisions you or I make are intellectual and emotional decisions. The former are usually correct and boring, and the latter are usually dangerous.” Lawyers and counselors, he says, give very different advice and it’s important to balance both sides. Other mistakes to avoid: Don’t involve your children before, during or after the divorce, Slowiaczek adds. And don’t bad-mouth your spouse (or ex-spouse to your kids). And, if there’s a third party involved, don’t call that person, his/her spouse or children.

 All of these factors seem to make January a perfect storm for uncoupling.

Published by Stout Law Firm

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