January is the most popular month for couples to separate or file for divorce. I’ve talked about this before and want to highlight this phenomenon now since it all seems to circle back to November.

Things have not been going well with your partner. You’ve been fighting for months on end. You’ve even both discussed what it would like to separate. You’ve been back and forth. And while you’re both a little freaked out about what that would look like – the uncertainty it would bring – you both realize that it’s probably the best option for you both.

But now you suddenly realize its November.

You just went trick-or-treating with the kids. In a week you’ll have Thanksgiving dinner with family. And then December will arrive with a slew of work parties, friendly gatherings, family time, and what are meant to be joyous occasions.

So you think “Of course we can’t separate now. There’s too much going on, we’ll have to tell our families, what would we do about the kids.”  It’s too overwhelming to think about shaking things up during such a hectic time. 

So you figure you can just wait it out two months until January and then finally make it happen and file for divorce.

And you could be right. That may truly be the best option for you and your partner.

It might also be better to face the music and begin taking the steps now to uncouple, rather than draw it out for the both of you.

Do you want to spend family time and happy holiday gatherings pretending like you’re having a great time? Do you want to spend that much time with your soon to be ex-partner in order to make it all look good and be more comfortable for those around you?

Maybe.  Or maybe not. 

So I invite you to take a look at both of the scenarios and consider which sounds like a better option. Indecision is the absolute worst place to be. So determining now what your decision is – do you stay together until January or do you start the process now – will help you survive the end of the year chaos regardless of the outcome.  

Everybody’s pros and cons are different, so below are some things to consider for each scenario. 

Scenario 1: Stay and wait until January to proceed

  •  not “rocking the boat” before all of the family gatherings or having to explain why your partner isn’t there with you at every event
  • the whole family will be together for the holidays
  • risk a rise in tension as you’re forced to do more things together
  • risk more fighting and escalating arguments that further hurt or anger each other
  • having to pretend that everything is okay in front of others
  • enjoying the season and dealing with the logistics, planning, and process in January
  • wait to discuss splitting assets
  • share the finances and holiday debts until January

Scenario 2: Begin the process now

  • discussing child custody and splitting family time
  • the family will be separated during the holidays
  • starting the process, rather than waiting which can feel like dragging it out
  • getting your “ducks in a row” before the New Year hits
  • learning to go to events and things on your own, while you have family and friends around to support you
  • no longer having to pretend things are okay
  • start to determine the assets and how that will happen
  • since date of separation is typically when assets and debts are divided, you may want to start the process now so that you don’t have to share your contributions to your 401k or pension, you don’t have to share the debt your spouse typically incurs during the holiday season

In both scenarios, there will be high emotions, difficult conversations, and uncertainty. The truth is, there is no perfect time to file for divorce. But if you and your partner have determined that separating is the best option for you, then you can choose when to file by looking at all angles of the situation.

When you are ready for a legal separation, mediation can help you set the terms of the separation so that each of you is clear about what will happen during the separation with assets, child visitation, and other issues.