5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Filing for Divorce

For most couples, making the decision to get a divorce isn’t an easy one. So how do you know it’s really time to call it quits? Here are five questions to ask yourself before declaring your marriage done.

Have you tried everything to make it work?
If finding out unsavory news about your spouse has you packing your bags and vowing that the next time you two see each other will be in divorce court, take a deep breath — and maybe take a little more time to mull things over. Is your spouse contrite and taking steps to rectify the situation? Would couples therapy be an option? Now that you’ve had a little distance from the situation, do you see any glimmer of hope of being able to trust this person again?

Note: Some circumstances, including instances of domestic violence, may make questions of personal safety and the safety of children the most important considerations to take into account.

Are you financially prepared to go it alone?
Do you currently have an income? In the event you divorce, do you have your own savings account, checking account, and credit cards? Do you understand how to make and stick with a budget? Beyond the emotional aspects of marriage, often the most rocky part of separation and divorce is understanding how to manage personal finances. Pinpointing individual financial resources BEFORE the split can reduce a great deal of divorce-related stress.

Do you have someplace to live?
If you plan to move out of your family home, where will you go? Do you plan to stay close to your current address or will you move to be closer to work or other family members? Do you have children who will need accommodations for overnight visits? Staying with friends or family may be option for some (and a way to lower rental costs), as is finding a roommate. If you are thinking about divorce, do a little craigslist browsing to see what is available in the area where you want to live. Leaving your spouse and then checking in indefinitely at a hotel is often the perfect way to drain precious resources.

Are you prepared to co-parent?
Upon separation, a temporary child custody order is typically put in place to assign parenting time and visitation until the divorce is final (or the couple gets back together). What kind of time are you able to spend with your kids? For example, if you typically have an erratic schedule at work, you might take steps now to create a work schedule with more regular hours, or with some days off — i.e., Friday nights and Saturdays — to spend with your children. If you envision yourself having primary custody, think about getting support in place (in the form of babysitters and alternate caregivers) to help you from feeling like you are going it completely alone.

Do you have a lawyer?
Have you met with a lawyer yet to discuss how the divorce process in New Jersey works? A good family law attorney can help you understand what forms to file and what kind of information to collect right now. A divorce lawyer can also inform you of how child custody, child support, spousal support, and other issues may affect your divorce.

Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst? In divorce, as in all things, knowing what you could be in for is often the key to making it through in one piece.