According to the statistics, approximately 42-45% of marriages in the United States will end in divorce. While no one enters marriage expecting to end up separating, it is an unfortunate reality. Many reasons lead to a marriage’s dissolution, but if you are considering going that route, there are some questions you should ask yourself.
A divorce has life-changing ramifications not only for you and your spouse but for children and even extended family. These questions will help you weigh your options before calling an attorney or filing a divorce petition.
1. Have You Truly Spoken About It?
It may seem an odd question to ask, but according to marriage experts, individuals only hear about 35% of what is spoken to them. Therefore, while one spouse may think they have clearly communicated their concerns and reasons for unhappiness, the other spouse is sometimes caught unaware. If you have a troubled marriage and are considering divorce, ask yourself if you have made an honest and sincere effort to communicate with your spouse.
2. Have You Put in the Effort?
Couples in successful marriages will tell you that a relationship doesn’t “just happen” – marriages require constant vigilance and care to thrive. Couples who keep suppressing “small issues” and not dealing with them often sabotage their relationship, eventually beyond repair.
Before filing for divorce, make a concerted effort to repair the issues underlying your discontent. Spending time with each other and talking it out may be all you need to rightly divide what is going on. Most relationships are doomed to fail if one person places all the blame on their spouse for the marriage’s breakdown – work together and see if you can make the relationship work before filing.
3. Why Do You Really Want a Divorce?
Unfortunately, some people filing for divorce don’t really want a divorce, but they have ulterior motives or are trying to gain leverage in the marriage. Divorce is not a weapon, it is a legally binding, marriage-ending decision. If you are making threats or trying to scare your partner into doing something you want, divorce is not a valid tool.
4. Will You Be Happier Single?
While in the heat of an argument, or even an extended disagreement, your marriage may seem impossible. But couples need to seriously consider what life will be like on the other side of that decision. Are you willing to only see your children part-time? Will you be okay with making financial payments to a spouse and children for 15 more years? Are you ready to run a household on your own, with no help or assistance?
While we understand that these are not necessarily reasons to stay in a marriage, they are considerations for those who may be rushing into divorce and not thinking about the inevitable consequences.
5. How Will Your Children React?
Sadly, no matter how well a divorced couple may handle the split, it will be tough on the children. Their daily routines are disrupted, they may feel torn between two people they love, and their sense of security is affected. If the parents are fighting or in a perpetual state of conflict, children are even more impacted. No parent should underestimate the impact divorce has on children. Studies have shown that divorce can cause children to perform poorly in school and have trouble with social interactions.
Again, staying in a volatile marriage because of children is not necessarily advisable, but considering your children should be an important component of your decision.
Even after weighing all of these questions, there are many situations when divorce is the only viable option. If you and your spouse have decided to divorce, you should make sure that your interests are legally represented.
Richard V. Ellis is a Sarasota-based family law and bankruptcy attorney. Call today to learn more about the filing process and to learn your rights and obligations.