When getting married, no one plans to divorce later. Yet sometimes, one spouse may begin to wonder whether the marriage is working. Whether you’ve been married for years or you’re newlyweds, you might experience doubts about your marriage and wonder whether to divorce.
First, remember that marriage is a partnership, and a successful partnership requires compromise, communication, and work. Try to figure out why you’re doubting your marriage:
- Is your doubt based on a reaction to an isolated event with your spouse, or have you harbored doubts for a period of time?
- Have you discussed your problems honestly and openly with your spouse?
- Have you and your spouse tried to work on your marriage as partners?
- Do you and your spouse trust each other?
- Have you tried any kind of marriage or individual counseling?
- Do and your spouse want your marriage, or has either one of you given up?
If, after considering these questions, you and your spouse cannot or do not want to work out the problems in your marriage, does that mean you’re ready for divorce? Not necessarily.
Whether to divorce: Potential consequences
Getting divorced is traumatic, even if both parties cooperate to end the marriage, and the process and aftermath of divorce can change your life significantly. Before heading straight to the courthouse, consider some possible consequences of filing for divorce:
- Dividing your collective property means you may well leave the marriage with less than you had during the marriage. This can lower your standard of living, sometimes significantly;
- Taking responsibility for any or all of your collective debts, when considered with a decrease in your property following divorce, may lower your standard of living even further;
- If you have children, you will need to help them process and cope with the loss of the traditional family unit;
- The amount of time you have with your children and whether you have a voice in making decisions about them can also be impacted in a divorce. In some states, one parent may be awarded sole legal custody, which gives that parent the sole right to make all decisions regarding the children. Also, both the parent awarded custody and the non-custodial parent would likely have less time with the children after the divorce, when the children may alternate time with each parent; and
- The process of divorce can be costly, especially if your relationship is contentious. Custody battles drive the cost up significantly higher.
Whether to divorce: Practical issues
If you have considered each of these consequences and are still considering whether to divorce, next consider the practical issues that arise in a divorce proceeding:
Have you consulted an attorney to find out the cost of a divorce and to seek advice on how to prepare?
- Do you know what assets you and your spouse own, individually and together?
- Do you know the identity of creditors and the amount owed to each by you and your spouse, individually and together?
- Do you know where you would live during or after a divorce or if the court awarded temporary or permanent possession of your home to your spouse?
- Do you know how you would support yourself and your children during and after a divorce?
If you answer “no” to one or more of the questions above, you may have some work to do to become prepared for the practical reality of filing for divorce.
Again, having a successful marriage is hard work, but sometimes even hard work isn’t enough. Although a divorce will end your marriage, it can also be traumatic, personally and financially. If you are considering whether to divorce, make sure you’ve taken time to consider the reason you wish to end your marriage and the practical realities of a divorce before taking that step.
Remember, too, that divorces are governed by state law. For that reason, if you are seriously considering whether to divorce, it’s important to consult with a licensed attorney in your state.