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Will 2016 be the year you finally file for divorce?

This Thursday, residents throughout Massachusetts will be among the millions to ring in the New Year and say goodbye to 2015. The start of a new year is often associated with new beginnings and the chance to change unhealthy behaviors and start fresh. For an individual who feels trapped in an unhappy marriage, the start of a new year may seem like the perfect time to file for divorce.

According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, divorce filings for the month of January typically increase by more than 30 percent. For Massachusetts residents who are among the many unhappily married spouses who plan to file for divorce in the New Year, it's important to prepare.

Concerns about money and financial security are universally shared by individuals who are going through the divorce process. Frequently, such fears are exacerbated by ignorance of one's current financial situation. It's very important, therefore, that individuals who plan to file for divorce take steps to identify all assets, debts and income sources.

Having a firm grasp of one's financial situation is empowering and can greatly benefit an individual during the divorce settlement process. Of course preparing for the divorce process is about much more than just dollars and figures. Too often, individuals who are going through a divorce allow important decisions to be influenced by negative emotions and feelings.

In addition to taking inventory of one's assets and debts, it's crucial to mentally prepare for the divorce process. A major step in this process is to acknowledge and accept that these negative feelings exist. Experiencing intense and sometimes overwhelming emotions like anger, frustration and resentment can be uncomfortable and even embarrassing. However, failing to accept that one has these feelings will only cause them to intensify which can interfere with one's ability to think clearly and broker a successful divorce settlement.

Source: MarketWatch, "Divorcing in 2016? Get your affairs in order first," Quentin Fottrell, Dec. 28, 2015

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