The decision to end your marriage is just as important as the one you made to enter into it, if not more so. So how do you know that you are making the right choice?
In this article, we will look at five crucial questions to ask yourself. The first four deal with the legality and logistics of divorce; the final question you will have to answer for yourself.
First Things First: Have You Attempted to Reconcile or Had a Trial Separation?
Divorce is a pretty drastic step that will change the rest of your entire life. Therefore, you want to make sure you’re making the right decision and you won’t have any regrets.
A trial separation is a non-legal agreement that allows both partners to live separately. This space can be used to work on the relationship without cohabiting or to get a sense of what life would be like apart.
In some cases, a trial separation will not work. For one thing, if there are children involved, a trial separation gets that much more complicated. In addition, sometimes there is no use in trying, especially if the divorce is the result of a drastic event such as an affair or if one partner is absolutely adamant about dissolving the marriage.
Have You Experienced a Final Breakdown of the Marriage?
This is probably the most important question when it comes to making a final decision about divorce. Family Code 70 establishes the date of separation, which is important in divorce proceedings. This is the date when the marriage officially failed to function and moved into the process of permanent separation.
To establish the final breakdown of a marriage, you need to have concluded that you (or your spouse) no longer wish to be married, and you need to have communicated your desire/intent to them (or them to you).
If you cannot definitively answer “yes” to both questions—have you concluded you no longer want to be married and have you communicated that to your spouse—then you may not be ready to begin the process of divorcing.
Can You Afford a Divorce Right Now?
There’s no way around it: divorce is expensive no matter how you go about it. What is more, the changes to your income and lifestyle wrought by a separation will be permanent; more than likely, you will have to support yourself. Make sure you are financially sound enough to do so.
The financial aspects of divorcing are some of the most daunting. If you’re worried about money, it may seem logical to try to go it alone without paying attorney’s fees, but in the end, you may end up in a worse financial position, especially if you do not get the settlement you deserve.
Is There Any Reason to Wait?
We cannot emphasize this enough: divorce is an extreme solution and should only be undertaken when you are absolutely sure you no longer want to be married. So, if you are second-guessing your decision, it might be best to wait.
Can you and your spouse try a separation, and/or seek counseling to save the marriage? If so, it is worth trying. Additionally, if you’re facing particularly stressful circumstances apart from the marriage (for example, illness or death of a parent or child, layoff at work, addiction), bear in mind that this may influence your decision-making. Use even more caution if there are other stressful circumstances in your life right now.
Are You Emotionally Ready for a Divorce?
Unfortunately, no one can answer this question for you, but as attorneys, we can prepare you for what might come. Your post-divorce life will look very different from your life now. The changes will be well beyond not having your spouse in your life anymore.
In addition, the process of a divorce is never easy. It is rarely even smooth, and it can be seriously traumatic for you and your children. We often encourage clients to seek some kind of counseling or spiritual support as they move through the process.
Your Next Steps
Just as you may need to entrust your mental health through a divorce to an expert, you need to entrust the legal end of things to a professional as well. A competent lawyer, such as the ones at our firm, makes the divorce process much easier to handle. This way, you can focus on building your new life, knowing that you had the best possible outcome and the settlement is fair and equitable for all involved.