Taking action doesn’t have to signal divorce. It means taking charge of your life. For most people, divorce is a difficult decision that comes after a period (often years, even decades) of unhappy marriage. Even still, the act of meeting with a divorce attorney can feel overwhelming. For many, that meeting symbolizes the end of the relationship — or the demise of an ideal. In fact, meeting with a knowledgeable attorney can be the beginning of a new start — whether you decide to divorce or not.
Just as making an appointment with a physician acknowledges your need for medical care, calling a matrimonial lawyer is often the first step towards taking care of yourself. But just because you sit down with an attorney doesn’t mean you’re obligated to divorce. A skilled attorney will help you understand your options — without pushing you towards a particular type of resolution — and provide you with a reality check on what to expect if you do proceed toward divorce.
Here are three reasons to seek counsel with an attorney before you make a decision to divorce.
- Gather Knowledge. An attorney who is knowledgeable in all areas of family law, including separation, mediation, litigation, custody, child support, Collaborative Process, and Assisted Settlement Conference, will provide you an understanding of all your options, as well as information about your state’s divorce laws. Knowing what you will face in terms of alimony, child support and child custody will help mitigate unpleasant surprises down the road.
- Face the Facts. Divorce may seem a foregone conclusion, but have you considered the realities of the process and its outcome? Your attorney can apprise you of the costs and impact divorce and the division of assets may have on you, your spouse and your children. Often this reality check inspires couples to seek options, such as therapy or marital counseling. “Thoughts about divorce can be a healthy wake-up call to work on a marriage,” agrees Dr. Alan Hawkins, professor at Brigham Young University School of Family Life and co-author of the National Divorce Decision-making Project which found that more than half of married individuals say they’ve had thoughts about divorce.
- Create a Plan. When divorce is eminent, you’ll need a practical action plan with your best interests in mind. Your attorney should help you develop a long-term sustainability strategy — not just an exit plan. By providing an objective look at the big picture and long-term implications of your divorce agreement, an astute matrimonial lawyer will help you prepare for life after divorce. For example, if you’ve been home with the children while your spouse worked, it might be wise to relaunch your career or attain that advanced degree before you file for divorce.
Yes, divorce is difficult, but understanding the realities of the process can yield more informed decisions every step of the way. By selecting a family law attorney who is knowledgeable and compassionate, you may discover that you not only receive wise counsel about divorce — but also gain guidance for a happier life.