A divorce can be a life-changing event and not a decision that is made casually. If there are children or considerable marital assets you must consider the emotional impact on your children as well as the financial consequences for both spouses. Before you hire a divorce lawyer, here are 5 top questions to ask:
1. Why are you divorcing?
If your spouse cheated on you or is no longer paying attention to you, you may want to consider couples therapy. Often, a cheating spouse is just bored or it may have been a one-time incident. In other situations, you may be frustrated with your spouse and just want attention. If you still have feelings for your spouse and your spouse does for you as well, you should explore trying to repair the damage rather then later experiencing regret for your visceral reaction once proceedings have begun.
2. Are you ready for a divorce?
You should consider a divorce only when you let go of your emotional attachments to your spouse and will not be overcome with anguish and regret for taking this step. For instance, will you be able to reconcile with your spouse dating and having relations with someone else? Can you proceed without feelings of anger or revenge that can cloud your judgment and lead to an unnecessarily costly conflict over matters that can be settled with calm and reasoned compromise and acceptance? If you treat your spouse with respect, he or she is more likely to be respectful toward you and a less costly process, financially and emotionally, is much more likely.
3. What are the adverse consequences of a divorce?
For many, a divorce can create numerous difficulties. If there are minor children, you must consider the emotional trauma in their seeing their parents separate. Many children become angry and sad and perhaps act out at school or engage in bad or destructive behavior. If home life has been stressful for a long time with numerous verbal battles and angry exchanges, consider couples therapy to see if disagreements can be understood and perhaps resolved or compromised. If the situation is truly hopeless, then explain to your children that a separation or a divorce will bring back peace and is the best option for all, emphasizing that the splitting up is not their fault.
For yourself, you should have friends or family to talk to and support you or you may experience profound depression and loneliness, especially if family friends take the side of your spouse. You must also consider the possible loss of income, health insurance, residence and the payment of child support and alimony that could seriously hamper your ability to continue the lifestyle you were enjoying.
If you are a same sex couple, there are issues that are different and must be discussed with a divorce lawyer. For instance, what happens if you or your spouse moves to a state that does not recognize same sex marriages? Certain factors affecting alimony obligations may be impacted if you were together for a long time before same sex marriage was legally recognized. Also, a state that does not allow same sex marriages can refuse to enforce same sex divorce judgments and orders from other states.
4. Can you heal yourself?
Forgiving yourself for either making a bad decision in marrying your spouse or for doing something that may have led to the breakup is essential if you are to get on with your life. Some things you can do is to exercise regularly or take up a new sport or activity such as tennis or yoga and to eat a healthy diet. You can have a drink at night to relax but drinking heavily will take its toll physically and emotionally. Do not harbor feelings of resentment towards your spouse or those who are comforting your spouse and not you.
You may have to alter your lifestyle but this can be a positive thing. For instance, you may go back to school and begin a new career or start dating others, which can be difficult but also rewarding. Make time with your children and engage in fun activities with them and for yourself.
5. How much will this cost?
Many people ask what the cost of a divorce will be. The cost largely depends on whether you and your spouse can agree on the major issues in a divorce such as child custody, visitation, support and the division of assets and debts. If you were the primary or only wage earner and your spouse did not work, be prepared to have to pay child support and probably alimony for a time.
You may consider the cost of alternative dispute resolution and at least discuss this with a Boston divorce attorney who is experienced in this area and can advise you regarding the process and cost.
Doug Lovenberg is a Boston divorce attorney who has represented and counseled people contemplating divorce in the Boston and surrounding areas. If you are a same sex married couple, he can also advise you of what you can expect depending on the facts of your case. Contact Doug Lovenberg today for any questions regarding a divorce in Massachusetts including questioning whether your relationship is worth saving.