Written by Cherie Morris, JD, Parent Coordinator and Divorce Coach
Do you wonder, more than occasionally, whether you should stay in your marriage or file for a divorce?
Is it more than the unavoidable flash of “anything is better than this” anger that flares up when the house is a mess, the kids are out of control, and your job feels entirely unsatisfying?
How do you know how to separate the stresses of life that are inevitable, and arise no matter who your partner is, from those events that suggest you may be better off divorced?
How Do You Know When It's the Right Time to Consider Divorce
As with so much of adult life, it’s a leap of faith to stay married or get divorced. And with do it yourself divorce and online divorce now a popular option, it may seem easier than ever. However, if you repeatedly find yourself contemplating whether your partner is the one for you, it’s time to think seriously about the right approach for you.
Of course, sometimes the choice isn’t yours to make, and if you’ve found yourself recently told by your spouse that they want a divorce, or they have already left, it may be difficult to think about options. However, it’s still important to understand what you need to know. So, whether you are contemplating divorce or have recently been told you are getting one, there is a common theme, that is, there are common factors to be considered.
Do Not Make the Mistake of Burying Your Head in the Sand
Once you get the news--either from your own inner voice, or from a "leaning out" spouse--instead of ignoring the situation, use the moment to gather all of your internal and external resources to create a plan. You can pause, for sure, and even take time throughout the process to rage and grieve but doing nothing may leave you in a position that hurts your future.
First, have you gotten any help with your marriage?
There is, as you know unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, an abundance of ways to work on your marriage. You can seek out a therapist, an LMFT, Psychologist or Psychotherapist who might help. If you’ve gone down the therapy route and it hasn’t worked, it is still important to evaluate whether it’s time to do something different. A divorce coach might be right for you now.
What Is a Divorce Coach?
A Divorce Coach is someone who can be your objective thinking partner. They are someone who has an understanding of the divorce laws in your area and they're someone you can consult with as you decide whether to stay married or not. A good Divorce Coach has training, and often their own experience of divorce too. They can help you move through every category of consideration for your future. Coaches are different from therapists as Divorce Coaches focus on the practical decisions you need to make as they apply to your dissolution--not on the psychology behind your decisions. If you call a lawyer now, they can help you with the legal stuff but they may not be prepared to help you think about all of the practical matters in divorce, down to the daily decisions and responsibilities you face.
The Divorce Coach Exercise to Help You Explore Your Marriage As It Is Now
Write down all of your own regrets in your marriage. An hour or day later, imagine yourself as an an outsider looking in and that you are someone who holds the person whom you're looking in on in great regard. With compassion and care, then read what you have written and ask whether you can honestly say it is better to move away from the marriage than attempt to bring it back to what it may have been in better days.
As you immerse yourself in this exercise, can you use this moment of reflection to openly accept your own mistakes, gently, and let go of any defensiveness you have about them? Is it possible, even now, to approach your spouse with a new awareness or even change in your own behavior? If you and your spouse can still answer affirmatively, there is more work to be done on the marriage. An online divorce and doing it yourself is less expensive than hiring attorneys, but no matter how you do it, ending a major relationship can be one of the most difficult things a person ever goes through, so I suggest to people I counsel to invest the time in trying to fix a marriage before they take the steps to end it. Don’t skip this step as it’s an important one.
As you consider whether you have done all the work possible to save your marriage, you should also begin contemplating the practical side of divorce. You need to visualize yourself after divorce so you have an idea of how things might look after you've started the divorce process and dissolved your marriage.
Here Are the 6 Things to Consider As You Decide to Get Divorced
- Your finances:
- Do you know them?
- Do you know where your money is and your spouse’s too?
- Do you know what’s considered marital property and what’s not?
- Do you know your expenses and debts?
- Your children:
- How does a separation affect them?
- Where will they live?
- How much support will you pay or receive?
- What are their ages and how does their stage of development and/or special needs impact what occurs?
- Can you learn to co-parent with your spouse?
- Your retirement:
- Have you and/or your spouse saved for retirement?
- How will it look if you divorce?
- Your career:
- Have you been working outside of the home?
- If not, will you get spousal support and for how long?
- If you have a career already, or are returning to one, how will the children be cared for in your absence?
- Your health and healthcare:
- Do you, your spouse or children have health challenges?
- How will they be impacted by the divorce?
- Who provides the healthcare coverage you currently have?
- How will that change in divorce?
- Your friends and family:
- Do you have strong bonds with family and friends that will bear the strain of separation and divorce?
- Are you prepared to lose friendships because some people cannot manage your divorce when their own marriages are fragile or their own worldviews of what’s possible are limited?
- Are you willing and able to forge new friendships and connections at this stage of life?
- Do you have support outside of family and friends so you do not strain those relationships beyond repair?
If you can contemplate each of these important areas of your life and understand how your life and the lives of your children, if any, will also look if you stay married and if you divorce, you will be able to move toward a decision that is based on more than how you feel in this moment. You can begin to plan for a future that envisions staying with a spouse who may be less than ideal but satisfies your needs in areas that are important now. Or, you can take steps to leave your marriage with careful planning, contemplating each of the above questions and categories to create a future that’s right for you.
If you need help answering questions in these categories, consider working with a Divorce Coach to begin the process.
A Divorce Coach is educated about the divorce process and is an objective thinking partner who can help you with resources you need to succeed in this process.
Your Coach is never tired of your questions or exhausted by your needs. They are standing right beside you from the beginning to the end of the process to make certain you are thinking about every detail you should consider and connecting you with divorce professionals, as needed, in each category.
They can help you communicate better for successful co-parenting with your spouse too.
In addition to coaching, many Divorce Coaches also have expertise as a Parent Coordinator who can help you alone, or you and your soon-to-be-former-spouse to create a parenting and communication plan that is as unique as your family is to you.
A Parent Coordinator is trained, as a lawyer and/or therapist, and in tune with the developmental needs of kids at every stage. They have training in conflict resolution and can teach you how to negotiate with your co-parent, or even with your child, as needed, to make the best decisions for you and them.
You don’t need to do this alone. There is support available, at a reasonable cost, as you make important decisions. Reach out when you are ready to create your next chapter. For more help, take a look at it's over easy. Their offerings, including podcasts and the insights blog, are amazing resources for people considering divorce.
Cherie Morris practices as a Parent Coordinator and Certified Divorce Coach. She is trained as a lawyer, yoga teacher and is also an author, divorced mother of 4 and now part of a blended family. Life is always interesting and challenging.
You can find Cherie at:
Other related blog articles:
Preparing your kids for divorce https://insights.itsovereasy.com/preparing-your-kids-for-divorce
10 Questions to ask when you know you’re ready
How to tell the children about divorce
How Forensic Accountants help you during a divorce