What To Do If You're Thinking About Divorce

Contemplating divorce can involve an intense spectrum of emotion. While an attorney can guide you through the proceedings once you’ve made the decision to file, the window prior, when you’re still weighing your options and evaluating the situation, may feel isolating. Here are steps and suggestions you can take to prepare yourself for a potential divorce on the horizon. It’s important to note that you and your partner may implement some of these actions and decide to preserve your marriage. There is no harm in exploring your options and gathering information, especially if it means opening communication channels between you and your spouse or reevaluating what’s best for your family.

Emotional Preparations

  • Accept that divorce is normal to think about and conducting research does not necessarily mean you’ll end up proceeding.
  • If you haven’t already, consider whether you and your partner would be receptive to professional marriage counseling or other therapies.
  • Don’t be afraid of divorce. Often fear of divorce as a whole stems from more specific concerns like the potential expense of legal proceedings or child-rearing as a single parent. Write these fears down to discern whether they are interfering with your family’s progress.
  • Consider how your kids might see you and your spouse. Perhaps they are stressed by the current lack of resolution. Imagine how your situation will impact them years down the road and allow that to help guide your steps.
  • If you’re on the same page about continuing your marriage, commit to being intentional about it. Have a tangible strategy and both agree to it, whether that means professional help or not.
  • Don’t give up right away if your first attempt at counseling doesn’t seem to resolve the tension. There may be other strategies and therapy styles better suited for you and your partner.
  • If you’re not on the same page about whether to commit to the marriage, you can ask a counselor for help discerning what’s best for the family.
  • Take a break from each other. Try separating your living quarters or going to stay with a friend or relative to see if it helps both of you calm from painful or vindictive emotions.

Practical Preparations

  • If you know or suspect you may be in an abusive relationship, seek intervention immediately.
  • Educate yourself. Find credible publications or books about the process. Learn about divorce laws in your state. Analyze your own situation and how those laws might apply. Try to be somewhat scientific in your observation of the situation and make it your job to research and brainstorm the possibilities for your family.
  • Establish a confidential email account for exclusive use in correspondence regarding divorce. Use a private browser at home or at work.
  • If you have a joint bank account, start saving cash elsewhere. It may not be necessary, especially if a judge orders early on that one spouse must pay the other’s attorneys fees, but it’ll be peace of mind to have started saving now just in case.
  • Evaluate your finances and consider where the divorce would leave you. If you’ve been raising kids full time, would you need to begin working? Is there marital debt? What assets do you share? It might help to make a list of these questions and concerns to have once you consult with an attorney.
  • Be extremely careful in whom you confide, especially via social media (i.e. avoid publicly venting). Anything on the internet, including emails can be used against you. Review what you’re writing and maintain professionalism in correspondence.
  • Examine whether there’s anything you would need help with in the event of divorce proceedings (i.e. taking on the tasks your spouse formerly did, hiring childcare, seeking personal therapy). Research divorce attorneys in your area and don’t be shy about asking for referrals from trusted friends or family members.
  • Schedule a consultation and bring a trusted confidante if you think you’d want the extra support (this friend can also take notes or remind you to ask certain questions you’ve talked about beforehand in case you’re feeling strained during the meeting).
  • Have an initial strategy for how you’re going to pay the attorneys retainer and fees (private savings, credit card, loan). Again, a judge could rule that one spouse must pay for the other’s fees, especially if one of you singularly controls the joint bank account and could prevent the other from accessing it.
  • Anticipate change. In the case of a family, should you decide to separate, it can’t be put back together the way it was. Even though divorce may be the strongest, healthiest option for everyone, know that things will certainly be different going forward.
  • Keep in mind that you can only control your behavior, not your partner’s, so set your intention for how you want to conduct yourself, particularly if there are children watching.
  • Start gathering together your financial information. You’ll have to disclose it early on in divorce proceedings.
  • Look for a divorce support group if you’d benefit from interacting with others in similar situations.
  • If you proceed with divorce, feel confident that you’ve been thorough and thoughtful about your decision. Call us for a consultation.
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