Make an informed decision about divorce. Think thoroughly and carefully through the following questions:
- What is the nature of my marital problems, and have I done all I can to address them with my partner? It’s important to recognize that all relationships, including marriages, go through ebbs and flows. Try to identify whether the problems you are encountering are long-term unhealthy patterns, or the results of specific events.No matter what the nature of the discord, make sure you have done all you can to reconcile so that you don’t regret not doing so down the road. Sometimes even the smallest gestures of good will, or visits with a skilled marriage therapist, can lead to healing never thought possible.
- How will a divorce improve my life, and how will it introduce new challenges? Make sure that plans for divorce are not a mere escape from relationship troubles, but that its outcome will actually nurture opportunities for a healthier, happier future. It’s important to understand that while divorce may solve some problems, it will bring with it new challenges. Divorce is not only about the breakdown of a relationship, but it also entails the restructuring of your entire life: social, financial, residential, relational, emotional… Ensure that this feels like an invitation rather than a path of destruction.
- Am I prepared for the financial implications of divorce? Divorce is expensive, and legal fees escalate the longer the process takes. Make sure you have access to financial resources necessary to fund it. Divorce also requires both partners to embrace a more limited standard of living. Make sure you are willing to live with such a reality. Investigate what support, if any, you are entitled to give or receive by law. Also consider how you will bring in your own income, and what steps may require, such a job change or education.
- How will a divorce impact my family and friends, and especially my children? Understand that while some may be supportive of your decision, others may not. Many distance themselves out of discomfort or a need to align themselves with one partner. This can result in much isolation and loneliness that will require you to reach out for new support resources, like coaching, therapy, support groups, and special interest groups. The latter can be both intimidating and exciting. Have a plan as to how you will inform any children about your divorce. Make sure they understand that it is not their fault, and give them the freedom to own and express their feelings. Children, family, and friends need to grieve the loss of your relationship, too.
- What is the best route of divorce for my partner and I? There are many ways to get divorced, and many make the mistake of jumping into a lawyer’s office without considering the options, what they want and need, and the best interests of all involved. Take time to look into the various alternatives: do-it-yourself, mediation, collaborative divorce, or if necessary, litigation.
The more you are able to communicate with your partner and the fewer complex issues you have to resolve, the more time and money you can save. If your relationship is highly contentious or there is abuse involved, litigation may be necessary.
Divorce is not to be taken lightly. Empower yourself with information, preparation, and support to determine the best course of action. Good luck!