It’s sad thinking about a divorce during a supposedly happy time of year, but it is not uncommon. The holidays can add to the stress already felt between a couple with marital problems and the approaching new year may make some think about a fresh start. However, is it better to ask now or wait? No one wants to feel alone during the holidays or ruin celebrations for their children, but both the couple and their children will still experience pain regardless of when the actual split happens. Before you make a decision, consider the following:

Emotions. Is holiday stress affecting your decision making? Are negative emotions impossible to hide from others? How is your spouse likely to react? What about your children? Can you be caring and compassionate in asking for a divorce and dealing with your spouse and children?

Communication. Can you discuss your situation with your spouse calmly and effectively? Do you feel intimidated or afraid? Are you willing to negotiate and compromise with your spouse to achieve a good resolution in the short and long-term?

Level of conflict. Do you anticipate a high conflict divorce? Are there circumstances that may escalate tensions (e.g., infidelity, abuse, financial troubles, etc.)?

Finances. Do you understand your separate and joint financial situation? Do you have copies of pertinent legal and financial records? Are either of you waiting for a bonus or financial payment? What about the tax impact of waiting until next year vs. this year?

Availability. Is this a busy or slow time of year for you and your children? Do you have time to move out (or help your spouse move) or help your children cope? Are other family members, friends or professional advisors accessible to assist you?

Remember to consider these issues for yourself and your spouse so that neither of you feels more overwhelmed and hostile than before.

The reality is that there is never an ideal time to ask for a divorce particularly if you have children. If the conflict is already poisoning the family environment, then there may be little reason to continue together for another month or two. Furthermore, even if you wait until after the winter holidays, there will be spring holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, and other occasions that may also result in guilt if you ask for a divorce at that time. The only way to achieve a divorce that is as painless as possible is to approach it with a mindset of working with your spouse.

While mediation and collaborative divorce are not right for every couple, they do provide a way to resolve disputes cooperatively. When couples use alternative dispute resolution, they are usually more satisfied with the result than those who litigate because they came to their own decision instead of one being imposed on them by a judge. They also get the benefit of a faster and less expensive divorce.

If you are considering divorce, contact me to discuss your options.

For more information on this topic, read my related posts – 3 Tips to Asking Your Spouse for a Collaborative Divorce and Divorcing Parents’ Holiday Gift to their Children.