The holiday season is often stressful. While you may look back on family events and parties with a sentimental lens, there are likely periods of tension and conflict, too.
Research has consistently shown the divorce rate increases in January and February. It is believed that the time together during the holidays highlighted differences between spouses rather than bringing them closer together. While this is not true for everyone, it is a common scenario.
If you have decided to move forward and file for divorce this holiday season, knowing what to expect and what challenges you may face can be beneficial.
At Brodsky Renehan Pearlstein & Bouquet, we understand the emotional impact of divorce. It is only increased if divorce occurs during the holidays. We can help you navigate the complex legal process while providing support and guidance at each step.
Understanding Maryland Divorce Laws
Before delving into the specific challenges of a holiday divorce, it’s essential to understand the basics of Maryland’s divorce laws. While Maryland offered multiple types of divorce in the past, today, the only option is an absolute divorce.
An absolute divorce dissolves the marriage altogether, allowing the parties to remarry.
Maryland law also recognizes no-fault grounds for divorce. No-fault divorce may be granted if the parties have lived separately (even under the same roof) for six months, based on mutual consent (an agreement resolves all outstanding issues), or irreconcilable differences.
Even though fault-based divorces are not offered in Maryland, issues like adultery, cruelty, and others are considered during the divorce proceedings.
Managing Emotions During the Holidays
The holidays can amplify emotions, making it a challenging period for those undergoing a divorce.
Feelings of loneliness, loss, and stress are common. As your divorce attorney, we recommend seeking support from friends, family, or professional counselors. Remember, feeling a mix of emotions during this time is okay.
If children are involved, the holidays can add another layer of complexity. Maryland law focuses on the child’s best interests, and so should you. Co-parenting during the holidays requires a clear and detailed parenting plan.
This plan should outline holiday schedules, including where the children will spend each holiday. Communication is key. Be open and honest with your ex-spouse about holiday plans to avoid misunderstandings.
Holiday Divorce and Financial Implications
Financial stress may be a significant aspect of a holiday divorce. In Maryland, marital property is divided equitably but not necessarily equally. This includes assets acquired during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the title.
Be mindful of your financial decisions during the holidays, as they may impact the divorce settlement. Keep track of your holiday spending and avoid unnecessary financial disputes.
Creating New Traditions
The holidays post-divorce are an opportunity to create new traditions. This can be a healing process and a way to move forward. Whether it’s a solo trip, volunteering, or a small gathering with close friends, find what brings you joy and embrace it.
Navigating Social Situations
Social events during the holidays can be tricky for those going through a divorce. Decide in advance which events you are comfortable attending. It’s okay to decline invitations if you’re not up for it. If you do attend, have a plan on how to address questions about your divorce. Remember, you are not obligated to share details you’re uncomfortable with.
Legal Considerations During the Holidays
Divorcing during the holidays comes with unique legal considerations, too. These include:
Navigating Court Schedules
The holiday season often means altered schedules for courts in Maryland, which may affect the timeline of your divorce proceedings. It’s essential to be aware of these changes and plan accordingly. Discuss any pressing legal issues that may need attention before the holiday break with your divorce attorney.
Impact on Settlement Negotiations
Holidays may also influence the pace and tone of settlement negotiations. Parties may feel more inclined to reach an agreement before the year ends for a fresh start. Be prepared for potential negotiations and ensure your interests are adequately represented.
Children and Custody Agreements
If children are involved, the holiday season requires careful consideration of custody arrangements. Maryland law prioritizes the children’s best interests, so any temporary adjustments to custody for the holidays should reflect this principle. Having an explicit agreement with your ex-spouse is vital to avoid misunderstandings.
Financial Decisions and Implications
Holidays can increase spending, impacting your financial situation amid a divorce. Be mindful of your expenditures, which could affect asset division or support calculations. Keeping a transparent record of holiday expenses is advisable.
Taking Care of Yourself
Self-care is crucial during a holiday divorce. Engage in activities that promote your well-being, whether exercise, meditation, or reading a good book. Taking care of your mental and physical health will help you navigate the divorce process more effectively.
Planning for the Future
The end of the year is an excellent time to start planning for the future. You may need to update your will, retirement accounts, and other legal documents post-divorce. Consult your divorce lawyer to ensure your legal and financial affairs are in order.
Seeking Professional Help
Navigating a divorce during the holidays can be overwhelming. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A skilled divorce attorney can provide legal guidance and emotional support. At Brodsky Renehan Pearlstein & Bouquet, we are committed to helping you through every step of your divorce, ensuring your rights are protected and your voice is heard.