If you’re asking yourself, “Am I ready to get a divorce?” you may be under stress right now. Perhaps you just had a big blowout with your spouse. Perhaps doors were slammed, voices were raised, and someone slept on the couch. Or, perhaps you’ve been watching your spouse’s behavior from afar and it seems like with each passing day, you’re moving farther and farther apart. You feel more like strangers, not soul mates.
Are you prepared to get a divorce? Is now the right time? Is it what you really want? If you’re living in a hollow marriage and you’re on the edge of calling quits on who’s supposed to be your “lifelong partner,” ask yourself the following questions:
- Have I done everything I can to save my marriage?
- Do I have unfinished emotional business with my spouse?
- Have I researched my rights and responsibilities under California’s divorce laws?
- Have I prepared myself legally to file for divorce?
- Do I know what life after divorce will look like?
- Do I have unrealistic expectations about child custody and spousal support?
- Am I ready to adopt a new, healthier standard of conduct around my children?
- Am I willing to create a successful co-parenting relationship with my spouse?
- Can I put my differences aside and get along with my future ex-spouse for the sake of our kids?
Many mental health and family law experts believe that Americans can be too quick to get a divorce. In the absence of alcoholism, substance abuse, spousal and child abuse, and criminality, most spouses should hold off on filing for divorce until they explore every avenue for rehabilitation, such as marital and family counseling, reading books, speaking to a clergy member, and spending time focusing on improving their marriage.
Questions you need to ask yourself:
- Why did I marry my spouse?
- When did things change?
- Why did things change?
- What changed about me?
- What changed about my spouse?
- What was my marriage like when it was good?
- Is my upset worth getting a divorce over?
- If my marriage was working, what would it look like?
- What is it costing me to stay in this relationship?
- What will it cost me if I end this relationship?
- Am I willing to put in the effort to make things work?
- Is my spouse willing to make it work?
- What am I doing to contaminate our relationship?
Of course, some things cannot be “fixed” per se. For example, if a spouse flat out refuses to go to counseling, then that’s a red flag the marriage is doomed. You can’t force someone to want to rehabilitate the marriage; it takes two to work on a broken marriage.
Or, suppose a husband cheated on his wife with his twenty-four-year-old co-worker and he’s decided to move in with her, leaving his wife of fifteen years and three kids behind. On the other hand, if both spouses are people, and they both want to try and make things work, they should not call it quits because it seems easier than changing their behaviors and reaching compromises.
What if My Marriage Can’t Be Fixed?
Suppose you’ve arrived at the decision that your marriage is broken, it’s beyond repair. Maybe your spouse is an alcoholic or addicted to illegal drugs. Maybe your spouse cheated on you and you can’t get over it. Maybe your spouse is mentally ill, psychologically abusive, manipulating or controlling. Whatever the reason for your decision, it’s critical that you plan and prepare yourself legally and emotionally for what lies ahead.
“You know you’re ready for a divorce when you can walk out the door with no anger, frustration or hurt. Otherwise, you’ve got unfinished business,” said Dr. Phil. “Unless and until you look each other in the eye feeling peace, no hatred or resentment, you’re not ready to get a divorce.”
Life After Divorce
If divorce is the best solution for you, that’s perfectly okay, but do realize that it’s only normal to have divorce affect you physically, emotionally, and psychologically. You may cry. You may get angry. You may feel frustrated and overwhelmed, but the trick is to realize that this is only temporary and life after divorce can be liberating.
If you have kids under the age of eighteen with your spouse, you must set an example for your children. You must model good behavior and unless your spouse is abusive, you should encourage your children to have a healthy relationship with their other parent.
In this YouTube video, Dr. Phil says, “At some point you have to say, ‘Look, this is what it is.’ You have to say, ‘Look, I gotta put my kids’ needs above my own.’ And you want to support their relationship with your partner – your ex-partner. You’ll be glad you did in the long run.”
We 100% agree with Dr. Phil. If divorce is the only option, why not work towards getting along so there can be less stress? What do you have to lose? There is nothing wrong with couples divorcing and creating a positive co-parenting relationship, which ultimately benefits the kids in the short and long-term. In fact, it should be the only option.
When divorcing parents are able to get along for the sake of the kids and treat each other with dignity and respect, everybody wins. Children cope better emotionally, academically and socially when their divorcing parents display a united front and show the children that they will remain their top priority, despite the breakup of the marriage.
Need a Los Angeles divorce attorney? Contact Claery & Hammond, LLP to arrange a free case evaluation.