Divorce is scary; it's exhausting; and it's expensive. Divorce means your world, as you know it, is about to completely change. Hopefully, this change is for the better. However, the journey to acquire a new life, filled with peace and happiness, will, unfortunately, come with many challenges.
Before you decide to proceed with divorce, you should consider the following:
- Do you have a support system in place? During your divorce proceeding, you'll need a source of support and comfort. Family and close friends are great sources for this. If you don't have any family nearby and/or are new to a particular area, check out divorce support groups in your community.
- Do you have a therapist? This person should be another source of support and comfort. If you are struggling emotionally prior to filing, consider starting therapy before the divorce process begins.
- Identify people who are a source of stress. There is always that one person who provides unsolicited advice or questions your decision-making. Often times, these people mean well, but in actuality, they are making the process more overwhelming for you. On that same note, every family law case is like a snowflake, i.e., no two are the same. The fact that someone obtained a particular outcome in his or her case does not mean that your case will or should have the same outcome. Being in a different county, having a different judge, having a different fact, having the absence of a particular fact, etc. all impact the outcome of a case.
- Aside from divorce, are you about to experience a life change? A job change, loss of a loved one, etc. can affect your ability to focus on the divorce proceeding and may cloud your judgment.
- Are your children currently in a vulnerable state? If your children recently changed schools, are dealing with the loss of a friendship, are preparing for testing, etc., dealing with divorcing parents may be particularly disruptive.
- Do you know your and your spouse's finances? Your attorney will want to know your assets and liabilities. Find out if you have access to this information.
- Understand that maintaining two households is more expensive than maintaining one. If you are unemployed, start looking for employment, or, at the very least, have a plan to become self-sufficient. If you are employed, is your job secure, or are you at risk of being laid off?
- Are there any big expenses on the horizon? Are life insurance premiums due? Does the house need a new roof? Does your spouse's car need new tires? Before funds are paid for these expenses, consult with an attorney.
- Do you have access to funds? If so, open up a separate bank account in your name only and place enough funds in the account to retain an attorney and to pay your expenses for a couple of months. Do not drain any joint accounts. On the other hand, if your spouse has cut off access to marital funds, you'll need to file as soon as possible to obtain relief from the Court.
- Is retirement on the horizon? Retirement income is likely to be significantly less, which affects support obligations. Also, if you and your spouse have been married for at least ten years, when you claim your Social Security benefits, you may claim based on either your own employment record or that of your former spouse.
- How is your health and your spouse's health? Do your health issues flare up when under stress? Do you need assistance while managing your health issues? Have your health issues rendered you disabled or impacted your employment?
- Do your children have specific health and/or educational needs? If so, are both you and your spouse able to manage those needs?
- Who covers your health insurance? If you are covered by your spouse's employer-sponsored health insurance plan, this coverage will end after your divorce is granted. Although COBRA coverage may be available, it can be very expensive.
- Are you anticipating relocation of your residence? If so, and you have minor children, this issue should be addressed during your divorce proceeding.
- Is saving your marriage a possibility? Have you tried couple's therapy and/or individual therapy?