Now that the holidays are over, more couples are finally calling it quits. In fact, January kicks off an increase in divorce filings, one-third higher than in other months, according to American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. January also has become known as divorce month because of this phenomenon.

Why January spurs divorces

Many couples put off filing for divorce until January because they don’t want to put a damper on the holiday season, especially if they have children. They want to have one last holiday season celebrating together as a family.

Another reason more couples file for divorce in January is that they want to start the new year by leaving a failing marriage behind. Filing in January also makes it simpler to calculate your taxes, as you’ll have a whole calendar year with separate finances from your spouse.

Preparing for divorce

No matter which month you file for divorce, you’ll need to prepare for it. The first step is to gather all your financial documents, so you get a better idea of all your and your spouse’s debts and assets. You’ll need records of the following:

  • Tax filings for the last three years
  • Salary information for you and your spouse, including any bonuses or other forms of compensation
  • Mortgage payments and debts
  • Credit card debts
  • Car loans
  • Retirement account balances
  • Other investments
  • A list and estimated value of valuable jewelry, art, vehicles or furniture

Next, you’ll want to find an experienced divorce attorney. An attorney can help you navigate the divorce process, ensuring that you receive the amount of assets you deserve. An attorney also can advise you on a fair child custody agreement or if you might be eligible for spousal support.

Divorce is a difficult, emotional process. If you are facing it this January, being prepared and seeking the support of an attorney and close family and friends will help you move forward.