If you are undecided about the fate of your marriage, give serious thought to getting marriage counseling. Sometimes people end up in divorce court simply because they were so inept at their communication they failed to realize that neither one of them wanted to get a divorce; they just wanted to address problems in the marriage in general. Remember, divorce is (or at least should be) your last alternative, especially if you have children. Don't be afraid to get some counseling.
Think about your decision
Whether you are the one who wants the divorce or you are the one who sees the handwriting on the wall, come to grips with this reality and make a decision as to how you will address it. Don;t vacillate back and forth on this issue. That is unfair to you, your spouse and your children. Give a lot of thought to this decision and weigh the pros and cons and then make the decision, one way or the other.
Think about the children
Do you have children? If so, they will be impacted significantly by this decision and by how you and your spouse handle it. If you and your spouse are able to speak to each other civilly and can agree on how to approach the children with this news that is great. You need to tell the children as a united front that this is a decision between grown-ups and they needn't concern themselves with the reasons or motivation. That is really none of their business. Tell them you both love them very much, tell them that this decision had nothing to do with them, and that you will both be there for them and that their lives will continue as normally as possible. They will still go to school, have friends, toys, their rooms, etc. Let them know they have nothing to fear. Show understanding that this is indeed a sad time, but you both feel comfortable that it is the right decision. If you are uncertain how best to approach the children, then you should see a therapist who can assist you.
Think about the money
If you decide that you are, in fact, interested in ending your marriage, or if you are resigned to the fact that your marriage is in trouble and will likely end, then give some thought to the consequences of that reality. Are you financially dependent on your spouse? If so, what are your immediate financial plans? Do you have any savings that you can get a hold of in the event of a divorce? If not, then start saving money so you will be able to provide for yourself and your family during the time between when the hammer falls and the court becomes involved. As a rule, if you think it will be necessary for you to move out of the family home and you are dependent upon your spouse financially, try to arrange for enough money to cover first and last month's rent and security deposit needed for housing, a retainer for a lawyer (try to save at least $5,000 for that) and then three month's living expenses.
Think about your case
You will need to prove a lot of things in a divorce, dealing with property, income, bank accounts, debts, the kids and a whole lot more. This is one of the things you hire a lawyer for; to help you navigate these waters. Prepare for this by collecting as much financial information and documents as possible. Obtain copies of tax returns, bank statements, stock or investment portfolios, pay stubs, Quicken or Quickbooks data files, passwords to various accounts, credit card statements. Try to get these things going al the way back to the date of your marriage. You may need it all. If your spouse runs their own business, this is even more critical. Remember, you likely own these items as well; there is nothing wrong with collecting this information. People spend a lot of time focusing these efforts on things that don't matter, such as proving adultery. Instead, focus on the things that DO matter: property and income.
Think about hiring a lawyer
A lot of people think they can't afford to hire a lawyer, when in fact they very often can't afford NOT to hire one. This is a very complicated area of law and is rarely successfully navigated by lay persons. Give careful thought to hiring a lawyer to assist you, and at the very least interview a variety of lawyers who can give you a better perspective on what you are facing. For assistance in hiring a divorce lawyer, check out the free handbook "How to Hire a Divorce Lawyer and Save Money Too: The Inside Scoop From Family Lawyers by Marshall Waller and Mary Ellen Waller. It can be obtained by clicking the link below.
Think about the future
Are you making the right decision here? Who knows. Only the future will tell us that, and as a practical matter, things do tend to work out for the best because we do tend to make the best of how things work out. Remember that. Things will be fine, and so will you and your children. We are adults and sometimes adults find it necessary to make very painful decisions, and we make them anyway because very often to live in a world of anxiety and despair and indecision is far worse than the decision to change one's life circumstances. Believe in yourself. Have confidence in your ability to see the path for your life that is best for you and for your children. Listen to the advice of others and take the good advice and reject the bad. Don't be afraid to get a second opinion, and don't be afraid to move forward. it is not so much the lack of confidence as it is the lack of movement that makes for difficult life situations. Be strong and keep an open mind. Good luck
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