In many legal circles, January is known as “Divorce Month” because of the sudden uptick in new clients at their door, all seeking a divorce. The evidence that divorce is on a lot of people’s minds isn’t just anecdotal: Google sees an increase in searches involving the word “divorce” between Jan. 6 through Jan. 12.

Why does it happen? In many cases, the spouse seeking the divorce may have known for several months what he or she intended but didn’t want to upset their family until the holidays were over. In other cases, couples may have been using the holidays to try to rekindle their relationship. When that fails, they realize that they need to part ways.

Unless your spouse is secretly unhappy, the odds are good that you have a pretty clear idea that your marriage is ending. If you believe that a divorce is likely (or know you’re about to seek one yourself) after the new year begins, it’s time to arm yourself with the right survival tools:

Be informed about everything

This means essentially two things need to happen:

  1. You need to know your finances — both assets and debts. If you haven’t already started gathering copies of all the important financial papers, including credit card bills, pay stubs, bank account statements and tax returns, it’s time to get started.
  2. You need to know the legal ramifications of your decision. If you have questions about your finances, custody or support, you’ll have less anxiety about the divorce process if you understand what the law says and what’s likely to happen in your case.

You need to be emotionally prepared

Unless you know that your spouse wants to make things difficult, start the process with compassion and kindness toward your spouse. This isn’t the time to air your grievances — because it no longer matters what changes (or doesn’t).

Instead, assume that your spouse is just as scared as you about the changes and that both of you are willing to make your divorce as civil as possible.

Divorce is a big step — but sometimes it’s the only way to take control of your future happiness. If it’s time, reach out for legal assistance as soon as possible.