15 Jun 10 Things to Consider Before Filing for a Divorce
No one is ever completely ready for a divorce. Despite this, it is important to consider the many facets to this complex decision to try and ready yourself as much as possible for whatever route you take. Here are ten things to consider before filing for a divorce.
Are you sure?
While the circumstances are different for everyone, it is important to be confident in your decision to petition the court, prior to starting the process. There are people that change their mind after the process has begun, and the decision to make the initial filing should not be taken lightly. We often suggest that our clients look to family / marital counseling prior to filing.
Look for help
Many Americans have experience with divorce, and those experiences can range from a variety of different perspectives. Amidst all of those perspectives, there are a numerous people who can help you with advice and/or at least empathize your situation. Talk to your family and loved ones, to professionals, and even your spouse if that is an option. There are support groups out there. The divorce process can be challenging, and you shouldn’t have to do it alone.
Understand your legal situation
It is important to do your research before getting into a divorce case (if possible). You do not want to be blindsided by a potentially unanticipated judgment that could jeopardize your desired outcome. Such mistakes can be costly both financially and emotionally. To keep this from happening, make sure you fully understand your situation and the proceedings. Speak to others that have successfully navigated through a divorce and talk to your attorney about the potential and probable outcomes of the legal proceedings. Having a fuller understanding of the system can also help you cope with the situation.
Understand your finances
Similar to understanding your legal situation, you must have a clear understanding of your financial situation. Not doing so could put you at risk of losing what you deserve during the divorce. If your spouse primarily took care of the finances in your marriage, take the time to familiarize yourself with your financial situation. The better understanding you have, the better prepared you will be if you do file for a divorce.
If you have children, consider custody
If you have children with your spouse, this, of course, will take a large amount time to plan. Child support, custody, and divorce (in general) can be taxing on the spouses, but it has the potential to be even worse for the children. This is not to suggest that you should not go through with a divorce because you have children, as that can (in and of itself) cause problems. Your children may be better off sharing time with each parent in different homes than living in a home with parents that should get divorced. Suffice to say that if you and your spouse do have children, their interests must be considered.
Are you doing this because of another person?
This may not be relevant to your situation, but if you are considering a divorce because of another person with whom you are involved, romantically or otherwise, you need to change your thinking. Choosing to get a divorce must be your own decision and in your own best interest.
Set goals for yourself
This is a good step whether you do decide to file for divorce or not. Make a list of pros/cons re: what you hope to achieve if you were to stay married, and make another list of goals you hope to achieve if you do divorce your spouse. Doing this will help you visualize what your life will be like once you do decide on a route, and it will better prepare you to achieve those goals once your decision is made.
Who gets the house?
Many couples often forget this step when moving forward with a divorce. Consider if you will both remain in the marital home during the divorce proceedings. Who will keep the house, or will you need to sell it? Whose name is on the deed? Considering your home before moving forward with a divorce will help prepare you if you ultimately decide to move forward.
What would your relationship with your spouse be like after a divorce?
Relationships with spouses after a divorce can range from being hostile to cordial to a wide range of other possibilities. Before filing for a divorce consider what you and your spouse would want your post-divorce relationship to look like. This is especially important if you have children together. If you do decide to file for divorce, it helps if you and your spouse understand each other’s preferences for the post-divorce relationship.
Evaluate your situation
This advice is broad and vague but important. Before filing for a divorce, consider all aspects of your life that such a decision would affect (even those not mentioned in this list). A divorce can be a life-altering decision, and you should not make such a decision without considering all the factors and evaluating how they may change if you were to file and how you could change them now.