The decision to get a divorce isn’t an easy one. It isn’t even a choice sometimes for one party. While getting blindsided is devastating, we will be focusing this blog on individuals that are contemplating divorce. The initiator of divorce has an impossible choice to make: do I stay and keep trying? Do I ask for a divorce? It is a common back and forth internal conversation that many of our clients have before coming in for a consultation.
We understand how challenging that choice can be, so we put together a guide based on our experience and knowledge and what we have seen from our clients: both that have chosen to stay together and those who have moved forward with their divorce.
Step One: Identify What Has Fractured Your Marriage
What has prompted you to consider divorce? Has your spouse cheated on you? Are you having financial issues that are causing conflict? Are you not feeling loved? Get down and dirty and really analyze what has gone wrong. Sometimes it may be a single moment that triggered the thought of divorce, like discovering infidelity. More often than not, it was a slow process, with both parties failing to communicate their needs, wants, or desires, or one side not listening to what the other spouse is trying to say. Once you understand what has gone wrong, you have a choice to make: what do I do about it?
Step Two: Can You Move Forward Knowing What You Know?
Once you have identified what has prompted the issue of divorce, do you see this getting better? Some clients could never get past infidelity, the trust has been broken, and divorce is the only solution. Other parties can work through communication issues either through marital mediation or in couples’ therapy. Take some time to really perform some soul searching and decide if you can work through these issues or ready to call it quits. If you aren’t sure, take some time to explore that feeling. Ask your spouse if they are willing to go to therapy or marital mediation to work through your conflict. After a few sessions, you may have a clearer picture of what you should do next.
Step Three: Gather Information
If you have gone through steps one and two, and you still feel like divorce may be inevitable, you will want to enter that choice informed. Gather as much information as you can about your options. Could you work with your spouse in mediation rather than going to litigation? Look at how much litigation can cost compared to mediation. What are some potential conflicts that could arise in your divorce? There are endless resources online through our side, divorce coaches, and other professionals to help you understand all the options available to you.
Step Four: Create a Divorce Wishlist
In a notebook, write down your ideal ending to the divorce process. What do you hope happens? If you have children together, write down the parenting plan that you would like. Are there any assets that you want to ensure you are given in a divorce? What about the relationship between you and your spouse? What would you like to look like in the future? Write all your desires down; it will help you articulate what you would like to go through the divorce process.
Step Five: Seek Out Support
Divorce is tough. You will need friends and family to lean on. Let a few people close to you that you are considering divorce and put them on notice that you may need their support. This is a nice foundation to have even before you approach a divorce mediator or attorney. Even a first meeting can be jarring. You will want someone you can call afterward. If you feel uncomfortable talking to people right now, join an online divorce support group and connect with others going through the same thing. These are great places to discuss your feelings or just vent about your day.
Step Six: Schedule a Consultation
Once you have decided to move forward with a divorce, schedule a free consultation with a mediator, this is a meet-and-greet to discuss your situation and get a sense of the mediators, if they are a good fit, and gather information about their process. At our office, we provide clients with information about the mediation process, as well as the ability for clients to complete the entire mediation process online from the comfort of their own home. We take care of all the court filing and document preparation.
If you feel like you are ready to schedule a consultation, contact West Coast Family Mediation Center. We are happy to assist you with any questions or concerns you may have about the process.