Choosing to divorce is one of the most life-changing decisions you may ever make – particularly if children are involved. With that in mind, it is important to carefully assess the situation to determine if it is the right step to take.
Here are 4 questions to ask yourself before filing for divorce:
- Is my desire to divorce based on an emotional reaction or true self-awareness? You want out of the marriage, but is it just emotionally charged frustration? A variety of stressors (financial, kids, career, etc.) can create stress on a marriage and lead to crossroads where tension is high. Be sure that you step back and think about the entire picture (or scope of your marriage). Try to remove any hostility or bitterness that is clouding your perspective and think about who you are and where you stand in the marriage. If you think divorce is the best answer, try to maintain that clarity. It’s best to face the divorce process with as little negative residual emotion as possible;
- Have I made every effort to save my marriage? In this case, the definition of “every effort” is subject to individual interpretation. For some it may mean counseling, for others a designated time period of trying to improve communication and address the marriage’s issues at home. Regardless, the idea is that you should only walk away from your marriage when you have turned every stone trying to fix the situation;
- Do I have realistic expectations for my post-divorce situation? It’s easy to adopt a “grass is greener” perspective when we’re in a bad situation. We’re so focused on getting out that we don’t assess if the grass really is greener on the other side. Think about how your roles will change (and grow) post-divorce and if you are ready to shift into those requirements and demands; and
- Have I done my homework? Just as the decision to divorce rarely is clear-cut, neither is the process of divorcing. A myriad of different ways exist to accomplish divorce including a traditional litigated divorce, negotiation, mediation, and collaborative divorce – each one offering its own advantages and cost structure. Consider meeting with an experienced divorce lawyer before you go forward with any proceedings just so you know (and are prepared) for what lies ahead.