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Should You File for Divorce?

Posted by attorney Teri Nelson

Whether to file for divorce is one of the most difficult decisions you could ever face. There are no easy answers. If you are asking yourself this question, your marriage is probably already in serious trouble. You should give careful consideration to all of the consequences a divorce could have for you and your family. Here are some thoughts that may help you to decide.

Serious Problems

The most important part of this question has to do with why you are thinking about a divorce. There are some serious problems that simply cannot be solved such as physical abuse, child abuse, mental illness, criminal activity, fraud, etc. If you find yourself in one of these situations, there is very little you can do to resolve them especially if your partner is the one who has the problem. For your safety or your child’s safety, you may not have a choice but to seek a divorce to get protection from the legal system.

There are other reasons you may be thinking about a divorce that are not so clear cut but still very serious. For example, drug or alcohol abuse or another addiction could be the issue. Of course, your spouse can seek treatment and if he or she does, this could save your marriage. Unfortunately, many of these people will not seek treatment unless they truly want to and/or until they “hit rock bottom". Sometimes, the “rock bottom" doesn’t happen until they are charged or convicted of a crime or being in a serious accident. However, sometimes the impetus for change is a divorce – the loss of their marriage or family. In that case, filing for divorce could actually help the person get their life back on track and seek treatment. In either case, if the situation becomes dangerous or unbearable for you or your family, you may need to file for divorce.

Money Issues

Money issues sometimes trigger this question. If you have a spouse who gambles, for instance, or, if your spouse simply cannot manage money or stop spending, you may need to seek some financial orders from the court to protect your assets. If your spouse is making poor financial decisions such as bad business decisions, refusal to pay debts or disposing of assets, then you also may need to file for divorce to prevent a waste of marital money. We are now seeing a lot of cases which involve the loss of a job where the spouse either cannot or will not get a job. They become depressed and sit home doing nothing. This may not arise to the level of having to file for divorce but perhaps talking about it will motivate them to get off the couch.

Infidelity

Infidelity or cheating is a common cause for the question of whether you should get a divorce. The answer varies extremely based upon the individual – can you move past this issue or do you want to? Some people can forgive and move on. To some people, this is an unforgivable offense. Before you make the decision, however, you may want to attempt counseling. Divorce is not an easy answer to marital problems. Cheating is usually a symptom of problems in an individual or a marriage – not necessarily the cause of the problems. If you can resolve the underlying problems, perhaps your marriage can be saved.

Other Reasons

There are a variety of other reasons for divorce – growing apart, changes in personality, changes in life views and goals, incompatibility, control issues, verbal abuse and emotional abuse are all common themes. The real question you have to ask yourself is whether these problems can be resolved and, if not, whether you can live with them. As to whether they can be resolved, this is a two-way street. If your spouse is willing to try to resolve them, you should obtain professional help to assist the two of you in working through these issues. If your partner refuses to acknowledge or work on them, then they cannot be fixed. At that point, you need to decide how you want to live the rest of your life.

Closing Thoughts

Divorce is a deeply personal and difficult decision and not something you should rush into. Absent safety issues or financial emergencies, there are not necessarily any legal reasons why you would need to file. You should seek the advice of an attorney so that you are aware of all of the consequences of a divorce to you and your family. Most attorneys offer free initial consultations. If you do decide to file for divorce, make sure you have all of the information you need and are as prepared as possible. Often, a little pre-divorce planning goes a long way in saving you time, money and stress.

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