Q: My partner and I are separated, and I wanted to finalize our divorce before the end of the year. My friend just told me she heard it was better to wait until the New Year. Is that true? Is there a reason to remain separated instead of finalizing the divorce, or advantages to one over the other?
A: There are certain reasons why you may want to stay married in the short run and get divorced at a later date.
Reasons to postpone divorce
First, your marital status on Dec. 31 of each year can determine your options for tax filing status for that year. If you remain married on Dec. 31, you can file a joint return for that tax year, whereas if you divorce prior to Dec. 31, you cannot use that filing status.
Some people choose to stay married so that they can remain on their spouse’s health insurance plan. Traditionally, obtaining a private health insurance policy for a dependent spouse was very expensive.
Now, with the availability of insurance through the state or federal healthcare marketplace, this issue is becoming less of a concern, as health insurance can be obtained at an affordable price.
Reasons for divorcing ASAP
On the flip side, getting divorced will sever your marital ties and allow you to get remarried if you so choose.
Another time-sensitive factor can be the current value of marital assets, such as real estate, cars or financial assets. For example, in states like Pennsylvania, the value of marital assets is generally determined at the time of distribution, when the court officially divides your property.
This can prove beneficial to one party or the other depending on who is keeping the asset. So, the current value of marital assets may be a strategic benefit for moving forward with the divorce as soon as possible rather than waiting.