Divorce and the Holidays


“Let me just make it to the end of the year” is something many spouses say when the difficulties of a marriage become irreconcilable. Many people want to make it through the holidays before separating, especially when children are involved. For others, the end of one year represents the close of a chapter; the new year is a better time for change.

The year-end is also a common milestone in the business setting. Many companies measure performance by year-end numbers and fashion an employee’s raise, bonus, employer-provided retirement contribution, grant of stock, or other awards accordingly. For self-employed individuals, the change of the calendar year often, but not always, represents the end of a fiscal year for accounting purposes.

However, waiting until year-end may not be the best course of action for your specific circumstances. The date on which one spouse files a legal action or moves out of the marital home will likely be used as the date of separation for purposes of characterizing marital property and determining the values of marital assets and liabilities. Yet, the test isn’t simply whether a spouse had the asset in hand on December 31. If the right to receive the benefit is a result of the spouse’s performance during the marriage, it can be treated as marital property even if not paid until sometime following the date of separation. So the actual date you are so worried about might not be the date the courts are looking at.

These determinations are case-specific and can be complex. Many factors must be weighed, such as whether it is most advantageous for the spouse to treat the asset as marital property or as post-separation income, which can lead to a consideration of the goals and needs of a particular spouse, as well as potential tax consequences and impact on other matters such as child support, spousal support and alimony.

These sophisticated issues require independent legal advice. Contact the family law attorneys at Pollock Begg Komar Glasser & Vertz LLC today and we can evaluate your individual situation. You can also read tips on our blog about coping with the holidays as a separated or divorcing couple or managing custody during the holidays. 

You can also read tips on our blog about coping with the holidays as a separated or divorcing couple or managing custody during the holidays