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Things to Consider When Contemplating Divorce


10 Things to Consider When Thinking About Filing for Divorce 

Divorce is a complex process that entails legal, financial, emotional, and social implications. It's not a decision to be taken lightly. Here is what you should consider if you're contemplating divorce: 

1. Legal Representation 

When considering divorce, consulting with an attorney can be a crucial step. A divorce attorney can provide a comprehensive understanding of your legal rights, responsibilities, and potential outcomes in your specific situation. 

Even if you are unsure if you want to move forward with filing, an attorney can explain the legal process and what options you have. Should you move forward, they can help protect your rights and interests throughout the process and help you avoid common pitfalls and costly mistakes.  

2. The Likelihood of Reconciliation 

Contemplating divorce is a significant decision that can drastically alter your life and the lives of those around you. Before making such a pivotal choice, it's essential to consider the possibility of reconciliation.  

Often, marital issues stem from miscommunication, unmet expectations, or stressors outside the relationship that seep in, causing discord. In such instances, with professional help such as couples therapy, open communication, and a mutual willingness to work on the relationship, many couples find they can resolve their differences and rekindle their love.  

Reconciliation not only offers a chance to salvage the relationship you've built over the years but also eliminates the emotional, financial, and logistical upheavals that divorce can bring. However, this doesn't apply to all situations, especially where abuse or severe toxicity exists. In such cases, divorce may indeed be the safer, healthier option. 

3. When (or If) You Should Speak with Your Spouse 

Deciding whether to discuss your thoughts about divorce with your partner is a deeply personal decision, and it's one that can have significant implications. Open communication is usually beneficial in a relationship, but in this situation, it's essential to consider several factors, including the following: 

  • Assess the state of your relationship. If it's characterized by open and respectful communication, discussing your feelings might lead to productive conversations or even possible reconciliation. However, if there's a history of abuse or conflict, raising the topic could potentially escalate tensions.  

  • Consider the tone you want to set. If you do not speak with your spouse prior to filing, they may feel blindsided, which may impact how cooperative they are willing to be throughout the process. If you want to remain amicable and/or file uncontested, you should consider speaking with your spouse before initiating the process.  

  • Seek advice from a mental health professional or a legal counsel before initiating the conversation. They can provide valuable guidance tailored to your specific circumstances. For instance, an attorney may advise you to wait to mention filing for divorce with your partner again until you have more time to collect certain evidence or information.  

4. Division of Assets & Asset Protection  

Dividing marital property can be contentious. New Jersey and Pennsylvania are both equitable distribution states, which means assets will be divided fairly but not necessarily evenly.  

If you are considering a divorce, it can be a good time to inventory your separate and marital assets. You should also consider what protections you have in place concerning your assets. Protecting your assets could involve various strategies, such as:  

  • tracking and documenting your possessions,  

  • understanding the value of shared assets,  

  • ensuring your name is on all shared deeds or titles, and  

  • closing or freezing joint accounts.  

It may also mean setting up separate banking and credit accounts, updating wills and beneficiary designations, and getting a fair valuation of high-value assets. These steps not only help safeguard your financial health but also provide a clearer picture of your financial situation, which is crucial for making informed decisions during divorce proceedings.  

5. What Debts You Have  

In an equitable distribution state, understanding your marital and separate debt when considering divorce is critically important. In equitable distribution states, all debts accrued during the marriage, known as marital debts, could be divided in a manner deemed fair by the court, which might not be a 50/50 split.  

This could include anything from credit card debt to mortgages. Conversely, separate debt, which is any debt incurred before marriage or after separation, is usually the responsibility of the individual who incurred it. 

6. The Emotional Impact of Divorce  

Getting divorced is a major life change that often brings about feelings of loss, fear, anger, and uncertainty. Even if the decision to divorce is mutual or for the best, it can still trigger a grief response.  

It's not just the end of a relationship but also the shared dreams, plans, and routines. Many people also grapple with a sense of personal failure or guilt, especially if children are involved. The stress of divorce can lead to mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Given these potential emotional consequences, it is essential to consider the emotional aspect of divorce when contemplating this decision. 

7. Social Implications 

The dissolution of a marriage often leads to changes in social circles, as mutual friends may feel compelled to take sides or distance themselves to avoid discomfort. Other friends might struggle with navigating the new dynamics, leading to strained or lost relationships.  

The couple may also face judgment, bias, or stigma from those who view divorce negatively, further isolating them during an already challenging time. In some cases, the person going through a divorce may self-isolate due to feelings of shame or failure, exacerbating feelings of loneliness.  

In essence, divorce can result in a significant shift in one's social landscape, underscoring the need for support and understanding from friends and family during this transition. If you are considering divorce, it is important that you consider and understand the social implications of divorce.  

8. Financial Stability (i.e. Post-Divorce Budget)  

Divorce can have significant financial implications—legal fees, alimony, child support, and the cost of maintaining separate households. It's crucial to plan your finances carefully and consider seeking advice from a financial advisor. 

9. Life After Divorce 

Your financial situation isn’t the only aspect of your life that will change should you get divorced, and you should consider that. Considering life after divorce is a crucial step when contemplating this significant decision.  

Envisioning your future without your spouse can help you assess your emotional readiness for this change and whether you're prepared to handle the independence and potential loneliness that may come. Furthermore, practical aspects also need to be considered.  

For example, if you have been dependent on your spouse's income, you might need to think about reentering the workforce or upgrading your skills to ensure financial stability post-divorce. If you have children, you'll need to plan how you will handle co-parenting arrangements and the impact of the divorce on them.  

You may also need to consider changes in lifestyle, such as:  

  • downsizing your home,  

  • changing your social activities, or  

  • adjusting to single parenthood.  

By contemplating these scenarios, you can better prepare yourself for the realities of life after divorce, helping to lessen the shock and disruption when it happens. It can also provide you with a clearer understanding of what you truly want, potentially guiding you toward the right decision about your marriage. 

10. The Impact on Children 

If you have children, it is also important that you consider and understand the potential impact your divorce can have on them. Children often experience divorce as an intense emotional upheaval.  

They may feel a sense of loss, confusion, fear of abandonment, and sometimes guilt, thinking they are somehow responsible for the split. Their daily routines and sense of security can be disrupted, which can lead to behavioral changes, academic difficulties, and emotional distress.  

Also, the way the parents handle the divorce process, especially the level of conflict and communication about the situation, can significantly affect how children cope. This isn't to say that staying in an unhappy marriage is better for the kids, as children can also be negatively affected by ongoing tension and conflict at home. However, it underscores the importance of considering your children's emotional well-being and having a plan for supporting them through the process if you decide to go ahead with the divorce. 

Experienced Divorce Attorneys Serving Clients in PA & NJ 

At William Kirby Law, clients can expect a trusted partner who will guide them through the legal intricacies of divorce while prioritizing their emotional well-being. We work closely with each client, understanding their individual circumstances and crafting a legal strategy suited to their unique needs. 

Call (215) 515-9901 or reach out to us online to schedule an initial consultation.