If your friend has been struggling with a decision to end a relationship, that choice can be further complicated if it’s made during the holidays. He or she may be struggling with several conflicting feelings. On the one hand, the decision may have been a long time coming and the New Year is time for a fresh start. Practically speaking, he or she may want to claim “Single” or “Head of Household” on taxes and need to finalize the divorce by year end to do so.
On the other hand, your friend may want to wait until January to file so divorce isn’t mixed with the holidays – especially if children or visiting relatives are a factor.
Regardless of whether your friend decides to get divorced before the end of the year or after, there are things you can suggest he or she start doing to simplify the process and ease a little of the emotional burden:
- Start collecting financial documents. Remind your friend to watch the mail for year-end statements from banks, credit card companies and the like. Preparing for divorce requires gathering all the relevant documents related to your bank and brokerage accounts, credit cards, mortgages and so on. Once collected, make copies and store the copies with a trusted friend or family member or use a safe deposit box in case the originals aren’t accessible later.
- Check credit reports. While gathering financial records, remind your friend to keep a careful watch on credit card statements and request a copy of his or her credit report. Review credit report scores carefully for any unusual activity.
- Research divorce professionals in the area. If you want to help your friend ensure the best possible outcome for his or her divorce, suggest taking the time to look for an attorney and find someone compatible. Divorce can be a difficult and emotional journey and the right attorney can help make that easier, rather than fuel the problem. After the divorce is over, everyone will still have a life to lead. If children are involved, it is even more important to avoid creating hostility.
Whether to get divorced by the end of the year is a personal choice and your friend has a lot of decisions to make. Listening to your friend discuss options and encouraging him or her to make decisions that are best for the long-term will help everyone better manage the holidays and whatever the New Year brings.