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Should We Wait Until After the Holidays to Start Our Divorce?

January is known as “Divorce Month” because couples who have decided to divorce during the last quarter of the year often wait until after the holidays to initiate the proceedings. The most common reason I often hear for waiting is, “we didn’t want to disrupt things for the kids, and we just wanted to get through this time of year”.

Despite the noble intentions behind delaying, postponing the inevitable may have unintended consequences. An impending divorce could cast a cloud over the holidays, adding an undercurrent of tension and uncertainty to already stressful times.

This makes the decision on whether to start the divorce before or after the holidays more difficult. When faced with these types of choices, it is helpful to look at the pros and cons of each option:

Waiting Until After the Holidays

Pros

  • Preserving Family Traditions and Time with Children: By waiting until after the holidays, couples can avoid disrupting cherished family traditions. This approach could help ensure that the festive season retains its joy and warmth, especially for children, who may be unaware of the impending changes. This time can be used to create a few more memories as a family unit, providing a semblance of normalcy and comfort for all involved.
  • Postponing Difficult Conversations and Logistical Challenges: Waiting allows couples to avoid the immediate stress of navigating complex conversations during a time typically reserved for togetherness and celebration. By delaying, couples grant themselves a reprieve from the logistical complexities of divorce, such as living arrangements and financial divisions, which can be particularly daunting during the holiday season.
  • Time for Reflection and Clarity: The additional time before initiating a divorce can be crucial for some couples. It provides a period for reflection and an opportunity to become more certain of their decision. The time during the holidays can be used to privately process emotions and consider the future, leading to a more resolved and clear-headed approach when the process does begin.

Cons

  • Increased Stress and Tension: The couple’s knowledge of an impending divorce can add a layer of stress and tension to the holiday season. This can sometimes overshadow the festivities, leading to a less enjoyable time for everyone. The strain of maintaining appearances or a sense of normalcy can be emotionally taxing for both partners.
  • The Weight of Uncertainty: The uncertainty about the future and the looming decision can weigh heavily on the entire family. This can create an undercurrent of unease, even amidst holiday celebrations. Children, in particular, might sense the tension and uncertainty, which could impact their experience of the holidays.
  • Postponing the Inevitable: Delaying the conversation about divorce means postponing inevitable challenges and decisions that need to be addressed. This can lead to a prolonged period of limbo for both partners. Important discussions and agreements are simply deferred, not avoided, adding to the emotional burden.

Starting Mediation Before the Holidays

Pros

  • Relief of Having Initial Discussions and a Plan: Initiating the divorce process can offer immediate relief. Having those first crucial conversations and beginning to form a plan can alleviate much of the uncertainty. This sense of progress can be emotionally liberating, reducing the build-up of stress and anxiety that often accompanies the decision to divorce.
  • Reduced Stress and Tension During the Holiday Season: With the divorce process underway, couples often experience a decrease in the underlying tension that comes with indecision and postponement. This reduction in stress can lead to a more relaxed and genuine enjoyment of the holiday season as a major stressor has been addressed, even if not fully resolved.
  • Enhanced Focus on Enjoying Time with Family: Starting the mediation process can shift the focus from the impending divorce to making the most of the present moments with family. Knowing that a plan is in place for moving forward can allow both partners to be more present and engaged with family activities and holiday celebrations.

Cons

  • Potential for Emotional Overwhelm During a Sensitive Time: Beginning the divorce before the holidays can be emotionally overwhelming for some couples. The juxtaposition of dealing with a divorce that is already underway while engaging in festive activities can be challenging to manage.
  • Complex Scheduling During a Busy Season: The holiday season is often a busy time, filled with events, gatherings, and various commitments. Finding time to take the initial steps amidst these commitments can be challenging; and for some couples, fitting this in might not work with their packed schedules.

Having been through a divorce myself, I always say, the two hardest things are first coming to the decision (to divorce) and second is actually initiating the process.  While I understand the reasoning behind waiting, I continually hear from the majority of couples I work with, that after our initial meeting, they both feel a huge sense of relief. This relief also helps the couple to get along better at home and in turn is better for the children.

All of that said, there is no “right” time to start divorce mediation that works for all couples. The pros and cons must be weighed, and the decision whether to start before or after the holidays should be based on individual circumstances, emotional readiness, and the potential impact on all family members.

Ready to Learn More about Divorce Mediation? Contact AMS for a Free Consultation

Whether you decide to start your divorce before or after the holidays, it never hurts to at least have a conversation with us to find out more about how divorce mediation works. Mediation is a more peaceful and cooperative process that allows couples to resolve their divorces in a more amicable way and at a fraction of the cost of going to court. With mediation, the process can also be completed much more expeditiously as you will not be at the mercy of the backlogged family court calendar.

author

Roseann Vanella

Roseann Vanella’s experience and credentials alone set her apart from other professional mediators in the state. She has an extensive business and financial background, and worked for many years in a corporate setting. Roseann is also very personable, down-to-earth, and she is truly passionate about her work. Having been through… MORE

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