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Should you ask for a divorce before or after the holidays?

You've reached the point in your marriage where you're ready to tell your spouse that you want a divorce. With the end of the year closing in, is it better to have one last holiday season together and wait until the new year to announce your intentions? Should you do it now rather than pretend that everything is fine over the holidays?

Announcing to your spouse just before or during the holidays that you want a divorce is going to have some short-term and long-term ramifications -- particularly if they're not expecting it. It will certainly put a damper on the holidays for them and possibly always cause them to associate the holidays with the end of their marriage.

If you have kids, they may always associate the holidays with their parents' divorce. That's another crucial consideration. You and your co-parent may elect not to tell them until the holidays are over. However, they may likely sense that something is very wrong -- particularly if you and your spouse aren't on the same page regarding whether you should end your marriage.

If you have thought this through and determined that you can't wait any longer to tell your spouse you want a divorce, don't let the guilt over other people's feelings and reactions stop you. However, as you tell your kids and other family members, acknowledge that you know this is a difficult time of year to be getting such news.

Before you broach the topic with your spouse, it's wise to first retain an attorney, if you haven't already, and have some initial discussions with them. The sooner you begin thinking about the things you want in the divorce (regarding your children, support and property), the better position you'll be in when you and your spouse begin negotiations. Your attorney may also be able to give you some guidance for breaking the news to your spouse, your children and the rest of the family.

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