Steps to Take When Your Spouse Wants a Divorce
You may have known that your marriage was not working out, or it may have come as a surprise to you. Still, now you know: Your spouse wants a divorce. It is important to prepare yourself financially, legally and personally to deal with the changes to get ready to start your new single life.
Preparing for Post-Divorce Changes
Divorce is a major legal, financial and emotional watershed for many people. For a number of reasons, one spouse may come to the conclusion that the relationship is irreparable and has come to an end. Some couples have tried counseling or trial separations for years, and in these cases, there may be little surprise attached to the request for a divorce. For others, both spouses may reach a mutual agreement that it is time for the marriage to come to an end. In still other cases, one spouse may approach the other for a divorce even when the latter was unaware of how serious the marital problems were.
Even in the latter case, it is important to note that when one spouse really wants to end the marriage, it is likely to come to an end — even if the other spouse would prefer to remain married. No-fault divorce is the norm in New Jersey, and no one can force someone else to remain married if they do not want to. As a result, when divorce appears on the horizon, you should prepare yourself for the changes to come. A family law attorney can provide you with guidance throughout the process of a New Jersey divorce, from getting your finances in order to referring you to other professionals who can help you to move forward.
Get the Support You Need
Divorce is often a challenging time on many levels. Even when you are sorting through the complexities of property division or child custody with your divorce attorney, you may need other forms of support as well. Many people experience depression or anxiety along with their divorce, and they may be hesitant to open up too much about how they are feeling. Others may try to provide support by speaking negatively about a former partner, but this may not be the kind of encouragement a divorcing spouse needs to feel better. This is especially the case if you feel that the road to divorce is not yet final.
Divorcing spouses may be concerned about how and where they let out their emotions. They may be wary of venting on social media, especially if they are going through a contentious divorce. Parents may be particularly concerned about potentially exposing their children to the emotional difficulties that accompany a divorce. A family law attorney is a key ally to have on your side during a divorce, but you may also benefit from other forms of professional assistance. A therapist or counselor may offer a safe space to express yourself as well as an objective view about the relationship problems.
Parents should also feel safe turning to the adults in their life for support and guidance. This can include babysitting help as well as offering a listening ear. Friends and family can be excellent support, and professional help can provide additional assistance in handling a challenging time.
Get Legal Support
Even if the word “divorce” has just come up in your relationship, it is important to get the legal advice you need to prepare for your next steps. Going to a divorce lawyer for a legal consultation does not mean that the end of your marriage is finalized. It can be a lot less confusing or frightening to consider divorce when you have a better understanding of the legal and financial process involved.
You can even benefit from legal advice from a family lawyer if you expect your divorce process to be relatively smooth and mutually agreed upon. There are a number of complicated financial issues involved in most divorces, especially if the parties have substantial assets. You may also have special concerns as a parent about how to arrive at a parenting plan and develop the right steps for child custody and support.
Going to a divorce attorney does not necessarily mean you are taking an adversarial approach to the relationship. A family lawyer can help you to achieve the results you desire through mediation or collaborative divorce as well as through a trial in court. Your attorney can help you to understand your rights and your interests and prepare for the next steps, including finalizing the divorce as quickly as possible.
Review Your Finances
One of the first items your family law attorney may ask about is a review of your financial situation. A marital settlement agreement often prioritizes property division as well as dealing with child custody and support. New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, and you and your former spouse, working with your respective divorce lawyers, can negotiate a financial settlement that protects both of your interests.
The first step, however, involves doing an inventory of your finances, both your marital property and your separate property. Gather your credit card and bank statements, investment and retirement account reports, cryptocurrency wallets, business records, tax returns and other key financial records and share them with your divorce lawyer. Depending on the complexity of your financial situation, you may also want to speak with a financial adviser.
Getting a clear understanding of the financial picture of the relationship is important to take your next steps forward. In some cases, both partners may have few assets and roughly equal retirement savings, and there may be relatively little property to divide. When couples have been married for decades, they may have a complex portfolio of real estate, investments and retirement accounts. Solid financial advice can help you to prepare for the effects divorce may have on your financial life and to plan for a positive financial future.
Put the Kids First
As a parent, you may have unique concerns when considering a divorce. You may have always planned to raise your children in a two-parent household, and the thought of divorce may come as a real shock. In addition, you may be concerned about losing your relationship with your children, especially if you are a father. The good news is that New Jersey courts tend to prefer joint custody arrangements whenever feasible, and family courts prioritize a good relationship between both parents and their children.
Of course, co-parenting also means that you cannot simply leave your former marriage behind. Instead, you will need to plan for years of co-parenting to come. While the romantic relationship may be over, you will need to develop a new “partnership” in the business of child-rearing.
Even when the divorce is painful and difficult, you will want to process your emotions out of sight or earshot of the children. Kids going through a divorce may feel torn between their parents, and the more both parents support healthy familial attachments, the better the kids will emerge from the divorce. You may also seek counseling and other professional support to help the kids deal with their emotions.
At the core, if you put your love for your children first, the kids will feel that care and connection, even if they are disappointed that their parents are breaking up. The more secure children can feel throughout the divorce, the less likely they are to suffer negative psychological effects from the end of their parents’ marriage.
Preparing for a Divorce
Getting ready to divorce is often challenging, especially when practical concerns and emotional issues are both combined. A family lawyer can provide advice and guidance. Contact the experienced New Jersey divorce attorneys at Lawrence Law by calling 908-645-1000 or submitting our online form for a consultation about divorce negotiations at our Red Bank or Watchung, New Jersey, offices.