by Betsy Ross~When it comes to divorce, like any other major life transition, timing can be everything. Generally there are not any specific ‘good’ or ‘bad’ times, BUT clearly some times are better than others to take the divorce plunge. When deciding whether this is the ‘best’ time for YOUR divorce, there are several important factors to think about and, luckily, there are skillful professionals out there who can help you put all of the pieces together to make your decision.*
Four Factors to Consider Regarding WHEN to Divorce:
Your Children’s Well-Being The age of your children is, of course, very important when considering divorce. Whether kids are toddlers, school-aged, adolescents, or even young adults will most certainly impact how they respond. Luckily, you can read about the effects of divorce on different age groups and how to best work with and talk with them, as there are many wonderful books and websites out there devoted to this topic. Most importantly though, remember that every child is different and you and your spouse may be the best experts and predictors of how YOUR children will do.
Your Mental Health An unhappy marriage can take a toll on your mental health. Changes in your appetite, your outlook, sleep, your energy level, and your mood are but some of the possibilities. Some people report feeling so distressed with their married life that they have difficulty focusing on any particular subject or task while others talk of obsessively focusing on subjects such as: what they dislike about their spouse or their marriage. Yes, each of these can be side effects of an unhappy marriage and, yes again, these can be indicators that it’s time to consider some alternatives, such as coaching/counseling, separation, or even divorce. But, these can also be symptoms of a deeper mental health (or physical health) issue that needs attention. Before you jump to the conclusion that your spouse/marriage is to blame, consider talking with a mental health professional (and also your primary care doctor) about what you are experiencing and explore what the possible causes or contributors to your symptoms might be. Investigate what is going on for you before choosing to make any big changes.
Your Pocketbook With divorce, the monies that were directed at supporting your one household and your family will be divided into supporting two households. This generally means that for a period of time, there will be fewer resources available for living compared to what you have now. It does not mean that you cannot figure out a new budget (and a new way to live on it), but usually there will be some serious adapting to do. Before you ask for a divorce, research what it costs, what your monthly overhead costs are for you and for your children, what income/finances are being brought into your household, what your debts are, etc., and try to develop a sense of what you think you might need to sustain yourself and your family in a one-parent home. Consider consulting a divorce financial professional to help you think about the financial aspects of transitioning your marriage. When it comes to finances, it’s better to approach divorce with your eyes wide open rather than just dive in and hope for the best.
Your Particular Situation Every family situation is different and the issues, strengths, and vulnerabilities of each family differ, too. What are the issues that are prominent for your family? For instance, if you know it is essential for your children to remain in their present school system, but divorce will make that unaffordable, should you wait until the children finish or research other school systems ? If you have two more years of school to complete until you can look for work in your field, should you delay divorce? If you hate apartment living, but feel you won’t be able to afford a private home after divorce, should you try to stay together until you can? If you feel you’ve truly fallen out of love with your spouse but still care deeply for them, is divorce the best answer?
Every marriage is different, every family is different and as you might have guessed, no two divorces are alike either. Only you can best answer these questions on the ‘when’ as well as the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of your situation. If you feel unclear or confused about how to decide, the good news is that you can find plenty of books and blogs with lots of relevant information and you can seek out the assistance of some highly skilled professionals to help you.
*In the case where there is domestic violence, abuse, or addiction in the home, it is always essential that safety (yours and your children’s) is the key factor in your decision making. Please obtain professional assistance on this as soon as possible.