Ask Yourself 5 Questions Before Filing for Divorce
Filing for divorce can be one of the most gut-wrenching decisions you’ll make, since it includes an upheaval of your current lifestyle.
It's also a very emotional decision, unlike, say, buying a couch or joining a new gym, you can get caught up in the moment and neglect to consider all aspects before setting your new life course.
Here are five questions to ask yourself before deciding if divorce is the right option for you.
1. Do I really want a divorce?
None of us are perfect, and the longer a marriage you’re in, the more history and conflict you’ll likely experience. It’s easy to get bogged down in the details of who did what - and to lose sight of the bigger picture.
Is it possible that you might just want a better relationship with your current partner?
First of all, it does usually take two to tango in run-of-the-mill relationship woes.
Take a step back and look at your problems objectively and take responsibility for your part. (And no, you should never take full responsibility or feel at fault for your partner’s behaviors and responses.)
This can include whether you avoid expressing what bothers you for fear of conflict, or the reverse, flaring up from zero to 60 because your spouse forgot to take out the trash again.
Consider whether you really want a new partner or whether you want to improve things with your spouse.
If you want to improve things, have a heart-to-heart with your partner—he or she may feel exactly the same way.
And, seeing a counselor or a trusted clergyperson is a good way to air grievances in a safe space if you feel that broaching this topic will launch a fight.
Finally, if you feel that you really do want to end the relationship, but are reluctant to do so, explore those fears and consider the pros and cons of a single life vs. your current relationship state: Are you afraid of being single again? Are you afraid of sleeping in your king-sized bed alone? Are you afraid you’ll be alone the rest of your life?
Again, a trusted counselor can be of great help here.
2. Where am I emotionally?
It’s never a good idea to make a life-changing decision like a split when you’re experiencing another life-altering event like a move, a job loss or change, or the death of a loved one.
To be in a good mental head space to decide on divorce, try to be in a level state of mind, free of anger and resentment.
Ideally, when you come to a decision about telling your spouse you want out, you should feel at peace with your decision and be ready to enter the next phase of your life.
This doesn’t mean you won’t experience emotions, but you will feel that you’re in control of your decision and the new direction your life’s going to take.
3. Have I researched and prepared myself legally for divorce?
Step outside the heat of the decisive moment and consider whether you’ve thought through the finances, custody issues, child support, spousal support, and other legal aspects of a divorce—and the impact it’ll make on your family’s life. You need to educate yourself on the way forward. A consultation with an attorney is a great first step to learn about your options.
4. Am I ready to co-parent?
If you and your partner have kids, just because your marriage is ending, it obviously doesn’t mean that your relationship will end.
You’ll always be parents together, and as responsible adults, you’ll need to create a new relationship as co-parents working together for the best interests of your kids.
While we know this can be difficult for a lot of people, you’ll need to find neutral and constructive ways to interact with your ex, free of emotion, especially once your divorce agreement and child support and custody agreements have been finalized.
Your attorney can help you with creative communication plans—some parents choose to communicate over email or a smartphone app to help them keep neutral conversations going for the sake of their children.
5. Am I ready to go it alone?
Realize that living alone will have its own learning curve. For example, did your spouse maintain the cars, or do all the yard work? Perhaps your partner paid the bills or filed taxes every year.
Have you planned to deal with those chores, and add in extra time and expenses you’ll need?
We often see that people plan pretty methodically for a wedding or vacation, for example, with a task list and money put aside for reasonable expenses.
It’s in planning a single life where they often leave lots of gaps, opening up the coming months to chaos and financial difficulties.
That’s why it’s important to discuss your future financial options with your attorney and a financial planner to ensure that if you move ahead with divorce, you’re able to support yourself within that new single framework.
If you need help with a family law matter, our attorneys at Smedley Law Group can provide you with the professional advice you need to make an educated decision. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today.