One of the hardest decisions that we make in our lives is whether to honor our vows and stay married or move out of a relationship that is destructive. It is a decision that is emotional and scarey. Reaching that decision should be done with the proper resources.
If you are at the point that you are contemplating divorce, then things are not good. The decision to divorce usually comes after years of unhappiness, loneliness and grief. If you are thinking about divorce, you are likely thinking about the short-term and long-term consequences for you personally, for your children (if there are any) and for your financial situation. It is scarey and overwhelming. The best way to really prepare yourself to make this decision is to educate yourself about the divorce process and the long term effects.
1. Develop a strong friend or family network. It is incredibly important that you have emotional support and perhaps financial, as you try to cope with the stress of the decision and the actual divorce if you choose that route. You need to have someone you can talk to about your feelings, your fears and what you hope to have happen.
2. Work with a good counselor. When the idea of divorce first comes to mind, talk with a counselor. In some cases, the counselor may be able to come up with ideas and resources that will help your marriage and change things for the better. If that is not possible, the counselor can provide strategies for you to deal with the stress of the situation and advice on how to tell your spouse, your family and your children. The counselor may have suggestions on counseling for your children to minimize the impact.
3. Learn your financial picture. Find out about all bank accounts, assets, debts and budgets. Know what it takes to keep your household going monthly and start to think about what it would cost to live without the support of your spouse.
4. Talk with a good attorney before you make the decision. Actually talk with several attorneys. Make a list of questions. Come armed with accurate financial information. Find an attorney that will take time to explain the process and potential outcomes. Make sure you are clear about your concerns and questions.
5. Unless you are faced with immediate harm or emergency circumstances, take your time to think through the options and consequences.
I know it is very hard to think about divorce. It is also very hard to go through a divorce and get to the other side. Making an educated decision about your next step will give you the ability to make the correct decision for yourself and your family.