Leaving your spouse can be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. You may have been thinking about it for months, or even years. Or, you may have discovered something about your spouse that changed everything in a heartbeat. Regardless of how or why you’re leaving, when you tell your spouse, everything will change, and quickly. Be sure to give some consideration to these three things before you inform your spouse you’re leaving:
- Who will live where? This is probably the biggest consideration, especially if you have children. Once you file for divorce, it will be at least 92 days before it’s finalized, and probably much longer. You and your spouse will need to figure out your living situation during that time frame. While it may sound fine for one of you to move into the basement or spare bedroom, unless you’re the happiest divorcing couple on the planet, this will prove to be complicated. If you get into a fight and things get out of hand, you risk going to jail, or being the subject of a restraining order. So, it’s best to find a way to physically separate. You may have another property that one of you can move into, or one of you may need to rent an apartment or move in with friends or family. If you have children, you’ll need a living situation that can accommodate overnights, or it will be difficult for you to exercise parenting time. Whatever your circumstances, your living situation will be one of the first things you address after informing your spouse of your intention to leave the relationship.
- Do you need to protect yourself? How is your spouse going to react to hearing your feelings? Is your spouse going to try to hurt you, or themselves? If that could be an issue, then you need to prepare for that ahead of time. You may need to inform your spouse in public, or with family members present. If the situation is likely to get out of control, you can also contact law enforcement ahead of time. But physical protection isn’t the only thing you need to consider – you may also need to protect yourself in other ways. Do you have access to funds, independent of your spouse? If not, how would you get money if your spouse cut off your access to bank accounts and credit cards? The Courts are not going to move very quickly to help you – if you were cut off for a few months, how would you survive? Having answers to these questions before you tell your spouse of your intention to leave can help protect you from a difficult or potentially dangerous situation.
- Do you need a lawyer? Of course, most lawyers will tell you that you need a lawyer. But you may be able to handle your case on your own, if the circumstances are right. If you and your spouse just aren’t working out, you both feel that way, and you have no children and no property, you can probably fill out the paperwork yourself and save some money. If, however you have significant assets, income, or complicated child custody/parenting time issues, hiring a lawyer is likely appropriate. You may also need to hire a lawyer depending on your emotional state. If you’re not able to think clearly to make decisions for yourself and your children, then it may be best to hire a lawyer to advocate on your behalf. The last thing you want to do is make decisions for your future based on nothing but emotion.
Leaving your spouse isn’t going to be easy. But if you know what to expect and consider ahead of time you can be prepared to handle the hard stuff. Contact me for a free consultation to discuss your case in detail.