Marriage Counseling. Do you still have feelings for your spouse? The divorce process can be long, tedious, and costly. Not understanding what went wrong or not resolving lingering emotions before the divorce may end up costing you not only more money, but also more pain. Unresolved feelings may cause both you and your spouse to fight for every last issue in the divorce decree (marital property division, custody arrangements, etc.), regardless how insignificant. These types of disagreements only draw out the divorce process, making it more difficult for all parties involved. If you doubt the divorce and/or are restless about the decision, marriage counseling could -at worst- save you future emotional and financial grief by helping both of you come to terms with break-up or it could wind up saving your marriage.
What Do You Envision for the Future? Do you see yourself finally living your dream, free of whatever marital struggles were weighing you down? Or is it impossible to even imagine life outside of your marriage? Regardless of the answer, if you have children and you plan on retaining or splitting custody, your future plans should include remaining in-state. Courts have long upheld the “best interest of the child” test when determining custody arrangements, and plans to move your children out of their schools, activities, and away from friends are hard to justify. Be sure to consider your children’s futures when making plans of your own.
Finances. With or without children, it is important to remember that a divorce does not equal financial freedom. In fact, research shows that divorce drops a person’s wealth by 77%, and not just for men. Contrary to stereotypes, men’s wealth is only slightly higher than women’s wealth after divorce. Even if your financial situation seems stable before divorce, it is important to examine your overall finances from a larger perspective. Often, people forget about minute costs that are new to post-divorce life (transportation for children, furniture, etc.). Be sure to have a financial plan in place before filing.
Bonus: Lawyer Up! The sooner you engage with an attorney, the better. Be sure to have some questions written down and come prepared to ask them. It’s your life, and your attorneys are there to help you through the process.