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2015 Massachusetts divorce resolutions kick in

It's an annual phenomenon that surprises few attorneys. The moment the holiday season ends, a flood of divorce actions begins. The sudden legal escalation is not confined to Massachusetts.

A Boston psychotherapist, quoted in a recent MarketWatch report, called the nationwide trend the "New Year's Resolution Syndrome." Divorce lawyers correctly have predicted client surges, starting on the first business day of January. Sometimes, the wave of requests for divorce information, filings and modifications remains high through March.

Resolving to commit to a major life change is part of the reason the January divorce filings are popular, but there are other reasons spouses choose this particular month. The holidays are a time for family togetherness that some spouses don't want to disrupt.

The decision to wait removes added pressure from the already-stressful holiday season, particularly for children. Some unhappy spouses speak with lawyers before the holidays are in full swing to prepare for a January divorce filing.

According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, so-called Divorce Mondays, with a 33 percent spike in divorce filings, have become a January tradition. Our Boston firm received more than 100 calls about divorce during the first two post-holiday business days this month. A similar number of calls were made during the same time in 2014.

Attorneys have observed that tax reasons compel some spouses to wait until after the end of December to file for divorce. Married couples have a distinct financial advantage at income tax time than unmarried counterparts. The Internal Revenue Service bases a tax filing status on whether an individual is married on the last day of the tax year.

Despite the sudden January filing increase, many spouses take quite a bit of time to decide to divorce. It's helpful to discuss legal issues like child custody and support, property division and alimony with a lawyer before taking any formal action.

Source: Worchester Telegram and Gazette, "No January thaw for couples getting divorced" Elijah S. Semon, Jan. 11, 2015

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