When people come to talk to me about getting a divorce, they inevitably feel very strong emotions about their crumbling relationship with their spouse. Emotions can cloud a person’s judgment and cause people to make hasty decisions which they could regret later on. In order to prevent couples from legally terminating marriages (and breaking up families) before there has been adequate time to consider the ramifications of divorce, California makes divorcing couples wait at least 6 months and one day before their divorce can be final.
I’m not a trained therapist, but I have helped a number of people through the divorce process as a family law attorney. The decision to divorce is one of the most significant decisions a person will make in his/her life. For this reason, I like to ask new clients this question: Have you done everything in your power to save this marriage? If the relationship does not involve abuse (against either spouse or any children), I ask clients to seriously consider exhausting all options to save the relationship before starting the divorce process. If a client has not done everything in his power to salvage his relationship with his spouse, chances are higher that he may eventually regret the decision to pursue a divorce. Divorce is hard enough without adding regret to the pile of issues a client will need to deal with.
Divorce is often more complicated than clients initially realize. While every case is unique, here are some issues that I encourage my clients to consider before making the final decision to end their relationship:
Emotional impact on you. Divorce is an emotional rollercoaster. Many people often feel a wide variety of emotions at different times during the divorce process and even in the year(s) following the conclusion of the divorce. Some of the commonly experienced emotions include:
- Anger, hurt, frustration
- Relief, excitement, liberation
- Confusion, loneliness, rejection
- Fear, stress, insecurity
If you are considering a divorce, do you have a support network to help you? My clients find that their friends, counselors, therapists and families can be a tremendous help to them during this transition period in their lives.
Impact on the kids. Divorce affects kids differently; younger children may react one way while older children may respond quite differently. Will your children have access to a support network? Talking to kids about the decision to divorce can be much smoother if the divorcing parents first consult with a counselor who is trained to help families through divorce.
Financial impact. Divorce often changes a family’s financial situation considerably. Some things I ask my clients to consider include the following:
– Can you afford to stay in your home?
– If you move out of the family home and move into an apartment, can you afford the security deposit and monthly rent? Can you afford a down payment and mortgage payments on another house?
– Will you need to purchase another vehicle?
– Can you afford to maintain your current standard of living if you are single?
– Can you afford to pay child support?
– Can you afford to pay spousal support?
– Will you be able to retire if your spouse takes half of your retirement savings?
– Can you afford to pay for any of the community’s debts?
The decision to divorce is often not easy and is very personal. In my experience, the more clients have thought through how a divorce will realistically change their lives, the easier it is to decide if divorce is right for them.
© 2016 Law Offices of Lorilee DeSantis. This blog article is designed for general information only. The information presented is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. The reader should consult an attorney for advice regarding the reader’s individual situation.