As many of us turn our thoughts to making changes in the New Year, a good number are likely contemplating divorce. Turns out, January is a popular month to file for divorce for many Americans. Why? The holidays are over, annual family gatherings are complete, it's time to make a fresh start -- the reasons are as individual as the couples. And in my practice, I've seen all three and many more.
Divorce is never easy, no matter how much a spouse wants to be free. Most people give their decision to divorce a great deal of thought and consideration before finally taking action. I support their forethought. However, I also hate to see someone continue to suffer if there's no change despite efforts to fix their marriage. If you know it's just a matter of time, perhaps now is a good time to begin the divorce process.
Here are some pros and cons of getting divorced now as opposed to waiting.
- You remove yourself from a negative situation or abusive relationship and can begin the process of healing;
- If you have children, you lead by example and use the opportunity to teach them about healthy relationships;
- By starting now, you will likely complete the process by this time next year, moving that much closer to getting the new life you want;
- If you work through the divorce cooperatively, you could complete the process within a few months.
- If you are a pension-holder, the community interest will cease to accrue once the divorce is final.
- You face yet another year of being stuck in a situation you have no control over and no hope of improving;
- Your prospects for improving your self-esteem and mental health stay the same or may get worse;
- Odds are you will likely engage in unhealthy habits to soothe your unhappiness;
- Your children will continue to see your unhappiness as you model unhealthy behavior patterns;
- If your spouse is a pension-holder, your community interest in the plan will be limited to that accrued during the marriage.
In addition to the above, one key reason to get on with an imminent divorce is that you will be required to begin figuring out the financial aspects of divorce. This entails beginning to imagine and plan for your life beyond divorce, including the financial aspects. While this is challenging, once you set the process in motion, and you get your financial ducks in a row, you will likely feel a degree of relief and excitement regarding what lies ahead. The unknown is far scarier than getting the answers to all those questions swirling in your head and acting on what you learn.
A great first step is to assemble your support dream team -- a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, a board certified family law attorney who is experienced in divorce, a family therapist and family members and friends. Focus on learning what you need to know about the divorce process. Trust your team's counsel, engage fully in the process and strive to make smart, financial decisions.
One of my clients posted a lovely picture of her happy self as she left the court house after finalizing her divorce. It was apparent that she was much relieved and excited as she launched the new her. Remember, your next best life is ahead of you!
This article is designed to provide readers with a general overview of the issues discussed and is not a substitute for legal or financial representation. For more information on divorce financial planning or divorce mediation, visit Patricia's website, Lifetime Planning. She is also presenting at the Feb. 27, 2016 Guide to Good Divorce seminar in Houston at the Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa.