For spouses considering divorce, timing may be more important than any other aspect of the case. While high asset divorce cases are most vulnerable to tax implications, anyone considering divorce should think about the timing of the filing of the divorce case to minimize tax impact and the emotional trauma associated with a divorce case.
Many people consider the holidays a poor time to bring up separation. Waiting until the New Year can also have other benefits to divorcing spouses. For example, end-of-the-year bonuses are often paid at this time of the year, and waiting for payment of this bonus can add to the total marital assets available at the time of the divorce. Emotionally, the holidays are usually a poor time to discuss financial issues, so a cooling-off period may be in order so that spouses can discuss the divorce calmly after the New Year. Christmas shopping is also less likely to be a costly disaster if the spouses agree to work together through the holidays.
One of the best reasons to avoid filing a divorce before January is the tax implications. Agreeing to file jointly for the past year usually benefits both partners. However, with taxes going up in 2013, the partner paying alimony may receive more benefit from waiting until January to file. Finally, waiting a month or so to file gives both spouses time to plan their strategies and organize funds to pay for the divorce action.
Divorce is never pleasant, but proper planning and taking a cool-headed approach will benefit most spouses far more than rushing into a divorce action. A divorce attorney can explain the implications of the time of filing and other issues that may arise as the result of a divorce action.
Source: My Digital FC, "Considering divorce? Waiting till January can get you a good deal," Dec. 25, 2012