All over the United States, family law offices are getting ready for an influx of new clients — the majority of whom will be looking for a divorce.

Lawyers have long called January of each year “divorce month,” and there’s evidence that new divorce filings surge as much as 25% to 30% annually during that time.

Why does it happen?

Most people think that there are two different factors at work.

Many people simply put off seeking a divorce until after the holidays are over because they don’t want to upset their children or other family members with the bad news until all the seasonal hoopla is over. Another group has likely used the holiday season as a “litmus test” for their marriage, gauging their feelings about the ongoing relationship as they went. When the holidays didn’t revive their romantic feelings toward their spouses, they decide on divorce.

What does it mean for you?

If you suspect (or know) that your marriage isn’t going to last, it’s usually wisest to speak to an attorney right away. Even if you still don’t want to tell your spouse about your decision until after the first of the year, you can:

  • Find out the filing requirements for a divorce and determine if you meet them
  • Learn more about how child custody decisions are made
  • Understand the issues that surround spousal support
  • Establish the primary goals you have for your divorce
  • Gain a better picture of your financial well-being post-divorce
  • Discuss what leverage you may have or which issues can be used as bargaining chips during negotiations

Talking to an attorney about your divorce before the first of the year isn’t jumping the gun. It’s merely taking the initiative toward a better future.