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How to Know When to File for Divorce or Separation

Posted by J. Benjamin Stevens | Aug 03, 2014 | 0 Comments

Finally pulling the trigger and choosing to file for separation or divorce is an incredibly difficult decision and should never be taken lightly. After all, you've invested years into your marriage, and ending something that you gave so much to requires some comfort that you're making the right decision.

So how to know when to file for divorce or separation? Of course, most of this decision will involve introspection and thoughtful reflection. The following are some questions that the Huffington Post recently posed to readers that might help you think through the possible separation or divorce and determine whether you're ready to move forward.

1. Have you given the marriage your best shot?

Almost anyone will tell you that separation or divorce should only be considered as a last resort. Small disagreements or spats do not justify ending your marriage, and something as permanent as divorce should not be considered until you've exhausted all of your other options.

Have you tried therapy, marriage counseling, read self-help books, or talked it out? If so, and if you cannot honestly think of anything else to do to try to save the marriage, then it may be time to consider moving ahead with the divorce.

2. Have you thought through the emotional impact of the divorce?

Divorce can bring out a lot of emotion: anger, sadness, betrayal, confusion, and, occasionally, relief. Rather than riding the rollercoaster of emotions after you file for divorce, it is far better to begin grappling with them early on. Start considering the impact of the divorce on yourself, your spouse, and your children and begin working through these feelings prior to filing.

Doing the hard work now can make it easier to stay strong during the separation or divorce itself. If you need help working through your emotions, reach out to a therapist, as it can be a welcome relief to have a neutral third party to talk with during the stress of a divorce.

3. Have you prepared yourself?

Preparing yourself for divorce includes both an emotional as well as practical aspect. Emotionally, you need to have thought through the realities of no longer being married and being on your own. Are you prepared to lose the emotional support offered by your spouse?

More practically, have you thought through the mechanics of moving on alone. How are you going to manage the house alone, the bills, the kids, or the pets? It's crucial that before you plunge into separation or divorce, you sit down and realistically take stock of what your life will soon look like. Make sure you're ready to handle the new responsibility that comes with being alone and that you're financially willing and able to make things work.

Once you've asked yourself these (and many, many other) questions, you will hopefully be in a better position to know when to call it quits. In the end, remember that you and only you will know when it's time to file for divorce, so take the time to listen to yourself and consider what you really want.

Source: “How Do I Know if I Should Get a Divorce?,” by Cheryl Dillon, published

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J. Benjamin Stevens

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