Divorces are never easy, and can get messy. You should make every effort to avoid this unfortunate event, which occurs for 40 to 50 percent of all marriages that end in divorce. But if you’re in an unhealthy relationship, it may be time for a change.
Whatever reasons you have for filing for divorce, it is a decision that should be made independent of emotion. Divorce decisions should only be made after you weighed all your options and are prepared to fight for your assets and custody of your children.
Every situation is different, but we’ve broken down the four essential questions you must ask yourself before proceeding with a divorce filing. As with any major life decision, a little thought and preparation can make a tremendous difference down the road.
1. Have I Tried to Repair the Relationship?
Is divorce your best resolution? If the current state of your marriage is non-violent but making you unhappy, you should seek professional help to determine whether you are going through a rough patch or whether ending your marriage is the only way to move forward. If personal issues are affecting your marriage, you may end up finding the same issues in future relationships if you do not address the root of your unhappiness. Consider these steps to repair your relationship before seeking a divorce.
– Identify main conflict points
– Seek outside guidance
– Try to improve communication
– Is this a phase, or an unsolvable difference?
2. Am I Safe in My Home?
If you’ve decided you want a divorce, your decision to leave or stay in your home can have serious implications. The safety of you and your children is most important, but if you’re not in any immediate danger, you should speak with an attorney before leaving your home, as it could affect your custody hearing. However, if you are in an abusive relationship you must take the necessary steps to remove yourself (and your children) from danger.
– Are you ever frightened of your spouse?
– Do you feel safe at home?
– Does your spouse throw objects?
– Are you allowed to spend time with family members and friends?
– Do you have access to spending money?
3. Have I Talked to a divorce lawyer?
Talking to an attorney is one of the most important things you should do before filing for divorce. The laws on divorce vary and change regularly. An attorney can help you navigate the landscape of family law.
If your case is complex and there are children involved you may want to consider hiring a family law specialist that is certified in divorce cases. The lawyer helps you answer key questions such as:
– Division of marital property
– Premarital/Prenuptial agreement
– Extramarital affairs
4. If Divorce is the Only Option, Am I Prepared?
If after following the steps above you decide divorce is your only option, make sure you are prepared for what lies ahead, which may include fighting for custody of your children and pets, protecting your property, and securing your bank accounts. Take steps to protect everything that could be liquidated by your spouse that is valuable to you. This includes personal property. Prepare by getting your finances and documents in order.