Making the decision
He still leaves the toilet seat up. She still hogs the covers. Is that really it? Or is it something more? He doesn’t appreciate you? She isn’t interested in you? How do you know when it’s time to end it?
Obviously if there’s verbal or physical abuse, or an addiction problem, that’s one thing. But if it’s just “not working out,” “not doing it for you,” “not meeting your needs,” or if you’re “growing apart” or “falling out of love,” then it’s a little trickier of a decision.
Have you already “checked out” mentally or emotionally? Have you already opened a secret bank account for your “escape?” Is there nothing left of the interest you once had?
Ending a marriage is a big decision, perhaps bigger than getting married in the first place. Now there are joint bank accounts, a house, a mortgage, a car or two, not to mention “joint” friends, in-laws, and maybe a dog, or kids. You don’t want to make the decision for the wrong reasons, and you want it to go smoothly. And you want the house, of course, but so may your spouse.
Maybe you already have taken this step. You both work, so you each have a life outside the marriage, and you see yourself as “I” and not as a part of “we” or “us.”
You engage in “cost-benefit analysis.” Like the CEO of a business, you think of what you do, versus what you get out of it. The question “Is it worth it?” becomes more of a business decision. You think, “I go to work, I pay half the bills, and I do ALL of the housework! He doesn’t even take me out anymore, and I even have to remind him to take out the garbage, his one and only chore!”
Or, maybe what is playing in your head is something like “she’s always yelling, nagging, like I’m a kid. I’m a grown man and I would clean the kitchen if she didn’t yell at me that I wasn’t doing it right. She doesn’t appreciate me and she treats me like a child. And if I suggest we go out, she yells at me for being financially irresponsible.”
Separating mentally and emotionally is the first step.
Just like you are not supposed to go to bed angry, you don’t want to leave a marriage badly. Ending a marriage in a cloud of rage is more than just unproductive. It stays with you like a nightmare and clouds your mind and emotions for a long time after the final decree. Be sure you are making the split with your head, not your heart.
You want to remember the good qualities about your spouse and the good times you had together. That way, you can make more level-headed decisions and come to an agreement that you can both live with and sustain.
Besides, your ex is going to be at the kids’ soccer practice, maybe PTA meetings, and you have lots of mutual friends. You can’t split up your friends in a divorce. You still will need to be able to get along with the ex. So you want to split up in the most amicable way possible.
If your spouse is not meeting your emotional needs, and you already have friends, groups, clubs or hobbies that do meet those needs, you’re already on your way to emotionally separating.
Who gets the house and who gets which car? (more on how debts are divided) How are you going to divvy up the kitchen? She wants the Le Creuset collection, he wants the grill. Okay, fine. But who gets the dog? How do you arrange the schedule for the kids?
You can start with mediation, to try to avoid Court. The more amicable and cerebral the split is, the less emotional impact it will have on the rest of your life. The divorce is not a cure-all. It’s just an official end of the legal union. Your ex still exists and will still be a part of your history and probably your future, especially if you have kids.
When you’re both ready, you’ll each need an attorney. If an attorney says he can represent both of you, find another attorney. It is your attorney’s job to represent you in your case against each other, and in 99.9% of cases, it is not possible for one attorney to work for each spouse’s best interests. Unless it’s just a simple, paperwork-only divorce, you need two attorneys.
Your attorney will help you fill out all the financial disclosure paperwork, (your CPA can help you with the numbers and tax ramifications), and files all your pleadings, answers, and handles the Court proceeding.
Spouses are allowed to examine and cross-examine each other in Court. The judge will review your pleadings, hear your arguments and settle the matter of who gets the french pottery and which holidays the kids spend with whom.
You’ll still need to show up before the Judge before the Court will issue the final Decree.
The aftermath of divorce can be awkward. Holidays, friends, family, kids and the rest of your life will be different. You’ll go back to dating. Maybe you’ll change your name back. There are a whole host of things that may not be the same. In a previous blog we cover 9 tips on how you can better cope with your divorce: 9 Tips On How To Survive A Divorce
The Divorce isn’t the end. It’s just a big change.
Are you ready?
Find out more about the divorce process here.