You are thinking about divorce but you do not know exactly what to do, or where to start and you do not even know how to bring yourself to talk to your spouse about it, not to mention the kids. Hopefully the situation is not so bad at home that the process, should you go through with it, will be lined with fights and legal battles but rather be a step towards a more fulfilling life.
There is a time to be thinking about divorce
There is a time for contemplating divorce and then, there is a time for acting on it.
Before doing anything, you will want answers and options.
- Are there intermediary steps before filing a petition for divorce?
- Could the marriage be salvaged? Maybe there is still enough love left and this is just a phase.
- Can you both try marriage counseling first? You changed and are not on the same page right now, but maybe you can get back on track.
- Is it what is best for you and your family from an emotional, personal and financial perspective.
- Are you thinking about divorce but fighting the issue for the right reasons?
Thinking about divorce involves a complex mix of emotions and considerations. Often times, the contemplation stage is the most challenging as it opens wide an unknown world. How does it work? How much does it cost? How will you manage? What can you expect in terms of spousal support? The answers will depend
- On the relationship that you have with your spouse
- If you have children
- If there is a prenup
- If there are assets
There is a time to weigh your options
There are 3 ways to end a marriage in California
- Legal separation: a sort of limited divorce, with no dissolution of marriage
- Annulment: under extraordinary circumstances, the marriage is declared not valid
- Divorce itself (through court or mediation)
In all cases, besides the legal aspects of dissolving a union, work needs to be done (but you don’t have to do it alone, nor should you). Taking the time to sit with professionals will help you erase a lot of fears and establish a financial plan and a parenting plan, if children are part of the picture. The financial plan covers both the now and the later part of your life. What do you have, what will you need and how to make it work? The parenting plan will address more than custody: visiting rights, shared events (think graduation), child support, major holidays, emotional well-being of the kids who will be just as hurt and lost as you are, if not more.
There again, there are resources: certified divorce financial analysts, therapists, parenting plan coordinators, mediators and attorneys. Ultimately, you are going from thinking about divorce to having enough information that you can make an informed decision and breathe a little easier.
Now conquer your fears
Phase one was about thinking about divorce, then it was time for weighing your different options now is the time to prepare for the future, which means conquer your fears.
How are you going to make the announcement to your parents, your friends? What will people think, what will they say? You are afraid of being ridiculed and also a little ashamed of having failed this important part of your life. There are a lot of uncertainties, the future is not written in stone and you are not sure how you are going to deal with solitude, being both parents most of the time if you happen to gain custody.
There are ways to get over the hump, there is something you can do: confide in your best friend if you haven’t already or talk to the parent you feel the closest to. Build yourself a support system, there are more people you can count on than you imagine.
There is a line that we hear in movies “We failed in our marriage, let’s succeed in our divorce”. It sounds odd to talk about success here but when you’re done thinking about divorce, keep in mind that once the papers are signed it will be the first day of the rest of your life. Making the right move, the right decisions, going through this difficult process well assisted will make things a little more fathomable.