Is this marriage over? I am a family lawyer, but I don’t sell divorce. I often hear something like this from prospective clients:
“I’m not sure that I want a divorce. Things have been bad for a while, but I am still hanging on. Sometimes I feel like it is over, but then I think of the kids, our house, our life. Is divorce really worth it?
An attorney is not there to convince you that your spouse is worthless, abusive or lacking in everything that you find valuable and good in this world, and they should never try to convince you that you need to leave your spouse if you are unsure.
If you can’t decide if divorce is worth it, you probably need to consult with a marital counselor instead of an attorney. However, bear in mind that a marriage counselor or family therapist advocates for the relationship — the unit of both husband and wife, together.
If you want a counselor that advocates for you and for your best interests as an individual, then I recommend that you find a therapist who does cognitive behavioral therapy or psychotherapy. Be sure to check whether mental health coverage is available on your health insurance plan and then find a provider inside your network. You can likely get a good referral from your family physician.
Above all, focus on your family and what you need to do to preserve it. Consider your choice very carefully, and be sure to get the facts about what divorce entails before you pursue it. If you have children, you need to realize that you will most likely remain co-parents with your spouse after the divorce. You may not love your spouse anymore, but he or she will remain a part of your life until the kids are out of the house.
Even if you are not sure what you should do, consider meeting with an attorney to discuss your options. Definitely find an attorney who is focused on family law, not a generalist who would take a criminal case or traffic ticket just as readily as a divorce. This is one of the most challenging roads that you will ever walk; be sure that you have an experienced guide to lead the way.
If divorce is on your mind, here are 10 simple true-or-false questions to ask yourself before splitting:
1. True or False: In the last six months, my spouse has changed their exercise, dress and grooming regime to look younger or fitter.
2. True or False: I have not had sex with my spouse in over one month.
3. True or False: I suspect that my spouse is cheating.
4. True or False: I can’t remember the last time sex was good.
5. True or False: I can’t remember why I married my spouse in the first place.
6. True or False: I don’t have access to the marital accounts, or the access that I have is very limited.
7. True or False: I am currently involved in a romantic relationship with someone other than my spouse.
8. True or False: My spouse has been diagnosed with a mental disorder/disease and fails to seek counseling or medical treatment.
9. True or False: My spouse has an addiction to drugs, alcohol, porn, gambling, shopping, etc. but fails to seek treatment to address the addiction.
10. True or False: We fight more than we laugh.
If you answered TRUE to 1 or 2 questions, you are probably in need of some marital counseling or a good, old-fashioned date night with your spouse that includes a heart-to-heart conversation.
If you answered TRUE to 2-5 questions, your marriage is salvageable but will take a lot of work. You need to ask yourself, “Does my desire to fix this marriage outweigh my exhaustion at trying to do so?” If so, then you should explore marital counseling. It is also advisable to consult with a lawyer just to ensure that you know your rights.
If you answered TRUE to more than 5 questions, contact a family attorney.