By Pamela Edwards-Swift, CFLS

The end of the year is upon us and by now we are all hustling to purchase the last of the Christmas (or Hanukkah) gifts. The stores are crowded this year (a good thing), there seem to be more festivities than in recent years (another good thing), but for some, the stresses of the holidays magnify the problems at home. With the added stress quite often comes the desire to look to the other side of the fence. You know the place, where the grass is greener. Somehow starting over, especially right after the holidays, seems like a good time to make a change.

We learned as children about the new year, and new beginnings. We heard our parents talk about their new year’s resolutions, and through the years, created our own. So the end of the year, for some, also signifies that there is a new beginning on January 1. There is something about the hope of a new beginning, a better life, that brings unhappy couples into the office of a divorce attorney.

So how do you decide whether it is time to leave, or a time to add “work on my marriage” to your New Year’s Resolution list? Sometimes the decision is an easy one, and sometimes it is not. Obviously, if the relationship is abusive, the marriage needs to end. If one spouse has an addiction with drugs, alcohol, gambling and the like, it may also be a time to end the marriage (unless recovery is set as a goal, and a real commitment to that end is made). An affair for some is also another deal breaker, and will make the decision to end the marriage an easier one.

But what if it isn’t cut and dry? What if you just are not happy? Is it time to end the marriage? Or, should you work on the marriage instead? Perhaps looking at the new year in a different way, may save your marriage instead. It may be a time for a new beginning…a time to make a list of the things that attracted you to your spouse…a time to make a list of all the positive things you can think of about your spouse…a time to seek marriage counseling. Don’t rush into the new year thinking all of your problems will be solved if you get a divorce. Instead, look at it as a new beginning for your relationship, a time to start over, with your current spouse, not a new one.


Pamela Edwards-Swift, Certified Family Law Specialist, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2014; Southern California Super Lawyer