In divorce land, the Christmas holiday season is generally a bit quiet. That certainly doesn’t mean that everyone is blissfully happy. We have all been programmed to be polite and avoid difficult conversations that may hurt someone’s feelings. It’s hard enough to tell someone you want to end a marriage on an ordinary day. Doing it during the holidays seems unthinkable. (Although I have had enough clients ask me if we could serve papers on their spouse’s birthday that it’s kind of a thing). The most compelling consideration is, of course, to avoid ruining Christmas for the kids. But breaking up during the holidays can also unnecessarily “out” you sooner than you may be ready since relatives and friends all have their holiday parties. It can be awkward.
Just because the holidays may not be the most ideal time to initiate a divorce, there is still plenty you can do to prepare during the holidays so you’re ready to go when the ball drops. (Check out my other blogs for general tips).
Mentally Prepare Yourself. Make sure you’re not using the holidays as a convenient excuse to postpone the inevitable. If you haven’t been happy for years, that’s not likely to change. The holidays are often the happiest time of the year. We have time off from work, everyone’s exchanging gifts. It can lull you into a false sense of hope. If you decided before the holidays that divorce was on the horizon, stay committed to your decision.
Consult With a Lawyer. Take this time to research attorneys and make appointments for consultations. Nothing is going to happen at one meeting. You will get some valuable information about the divorce process and your legal entitlements. You won’t be in a hurry to get started so you’ll have time to reflect on the information you have received and make a decision about which attorney you want to hire. You’ll also have time to do any follow up with the attorney(s), if necessary, without feeling rushed.
Start Getting Money Together. When you start meeting with attorneys, you will get a better sense of your strategy and how much you need for an initial retainer. If you[‘re like most people, you don’t have thousands of dollars lying around to spend freely. You may need to figure out where the money is going to come from e.g. a credit card, sale of stock, a loan, an end-of-year bonus, etc. Figure that out before it becomes an emergency.
Start Getting Papers Together. You will likely need to have a stack of paper such as bank statements, credit card statements, a list of all assets and liabilities, and any statements or other papers that provide evidence of those assets and liabilities. It can be cumbersome getting those papers together but when you need them, you really need them. Start now while it’s not urgent and you can do it at a slower pace. You may also have to snoop a little bit too if you’re not the one who handles the finances. This will give you some time to do that before your spouse is aware of things.
Get a Coach. You may want to have someone who is objective coach you through this process. Now is the time to find one. A coach can help you navigate your way through the divorce process. A lawyer can help you with the legal process but a lawyer is often not adept at helping you plan your future. A coach can do that.
These are just a few things you can do during the holiday stretch to make sure you don’t lose momentum. You know this is what you want. Making a solid decision is difficult. Following through when you know it’s the right thing to do can be just as difficult. Follow these tips and your divorce plan will already be well under way.
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