People often think that once they have made the decision to divorce, the next step is to file the official paperwork. Most of the time, however, the process of filing for divorce will require much more deliberate, strategic, and considerate thought, especially when determining the most appropriate time to file. For example, filing too soon could cause you to find yourself facing tight deadlines which you simply are not prepared to meet, whereas filing too late could have serious tax implications or cause you to scramble to find missing assets. With that being said, when exactly is the “best” time to file?
The following factors will govern the right timing when applying for divorce:
- Domestic violence and abuse: If any sort of violence or abuse is occurring that is directed towards you or your children, you must consider taking immediate action to avoid more suffering further physical or psychological harm. Speaking up and getting the police involved can not only allow you to pursue a protective order against your abusive spouse, but it could also protect you from getting in trouble for failing to report the abuse of your child.
- Your emotional preparedness: Getting divorced is a major decision that will have a fundamental impact on the rest of your life. If you are not emotionally ready for the associated changes and legal processes, it is important you seek professional counseling and the assistance of an attorney to prepare for what is to come. This way, when you are ready to get the process started, you will have the necessary support you need.
- Your children: Parents who wait too long to file can end up inadvertently harming their children in the process. This may happen when parents attempt to resolve all issues themselves, resulting in endless arguments, breakdowns in communication, and a great sense of confusion. Filing for divorce and retaining professional help can help to spare your children from this agony.
- Taxes: Your tax filing status is determined based on your marital status on the last day of the year. In other words, if your divorce is finalized on December 31st, you will file your annual tax return as a single person. This also means that you will forego the benefit of the marital tax deduction. If this is a concern, you may want to consider waiting to file until the following calendar year.
- Retirement benefits: The duration of your marriage is an important factor for some key retirement-related benefits. For example, current social security rules allow divorced spouses who were married to the same person for at least 10 years to qualify for a divorced spouse benefit. Likewise, 10 years is a milestone for military spouses to receive benefits. If you are almost at 10 years, it may be wise to wait until this mark before parting ways.
Discuss Your Situation with a Fairfax Divorce Attorney
Regardless of the specifics, if you are approaching a divorce, it is imperative you consult with a skilled attorney to evaluate the legal issues you face and determine the most appropriate strategy to pursue. At Malinowski Hubbard, PLLC, our Fairfax divorce lawyers have helped countless couples throughout Northern Virginia pursue amicable solutions for their marital disputes and can provide the steadfast support you need during this uncertain time.
To find out more about what our “Superb” rated attorneys can do for you, call (703) 935-4222 today.