Since becoming a New Jersey divorce and family law attorney, I can attest to the fact that after holiday seasons, and even typical vacation times, the phone in my office tends to ring a bit more frequently with new clients making appointments. Sometimes, the holiday acted as “the straw that broke the camel’s back” and a person wants to get out. It has been speculated that due to the stress of the December holiday season, that January is Divorce Month.
However, many times when sitting down for initial post-holiday consultations, new clients explain that they consciously waited to come to visit until after a family vacation, the holiday season, or a special event (family wedding or milestone birthday). And as we now find ourselves in the throws of the holiday season, many of you are making that same decision.
It is attractive for many reasons to trudge through these holidays as an intact family. You may feel that you don’t want to upset your children during the holidays. You may want to preserve a family tradition for one more round and want your children to see an intact family opening presents under the tree or lighting the menorah. I admire your dedication to your children, but caution you to tread carefully, there are a few reasons why you should not wait.
First, if you are the victim of domestic violence (physical or mental), you should not wait another minute to put legal protection in place for yourself. Holidays are full of stress and emotion for even the best of marital relationships. If your relationship is experiencing problems and there has been any incident of abuse, it can continue or even get worse during the next few weeks as budgets are stretched to purchase holiday gifts and alcohol is consumed during celebrations.
If your relationship is stressed and headed towards divorce, you may find that as the holidays approach your decision to wait becomes unbearable. Given the stress of shopping, cooking, and visiting the reasons why you are headed towards divorce may even become amplified. Additionally, the performance of “everything is normal and happy” can be exhausting for you.
While you may be waiting out one more holiday season for the sake of your children, that plan will more than likely backfire. Even if you really do pull off an award winning performance of happiness, it will not be authentic. While they usually cannot explain it, children can feel tension in the air when parents are unhappy. Even the best of parents snap under this pressure and the children will witness screaming, fighting, parents snapping at each other or just not happy. This can all be emotionally damaging and not in their best interest at all. Their Christmas will be filled with many memories of mom and dad’s throw down and horrible memories. If you do manage to pull off the season without fighting, shortly after your children will be crushed if they think the holidays were a sham. If they are older they may feel guilty that you were miserable during the holidays just so they can be happy.
My best advice to you is to meet with a divorce attorney and put a plan in place. Fear of the unknown can cause too much stress. You will find great relief starting the process and enter the holidays with a bit of certainty about your future. You will know what to expect and fell 100% better. Even if you do decide to keep the start of the divorce process quiet, knowing that there is action can bring you great peace. Our staff looks forward to helping you through this time, call for your free consultation today.