It is no secret that many people wait until after the holiday season concludes before finally deciding to move on with their lives and commence the divorce process. It is for that reason why January is one of our busiest times of the year, as a result. Whether because of the family and the children, financial reasons, a hope that the marriage can be salvaged, an overwhelming schedule that leaves no time to act on this decision, or something else, each person has a rationale for why and when they are finally prepared to move forward.
In fact, some commentators consider a person’s choice to proceed with a divorce at the beginning of the new year to be a sort of New Year’s resolution. Considering that a resolution is something you resolve to change in your life for the better, this line of thinking makes a lot of sense. While a list of 50 resolution ideas I read on lifehack.org did not include divorce, there is a clear self-improvement and self-empowerment theme running through many of the resolutions listed that undoubtedly applies to divorce as well. A review of other website top resolution lists had a similar vibe.
Getting in shape and losing weight, meeting new people and/or a significant other, learning to be happier in life, reconnecting with family and friends, reducing stress, and improving your mental health are all motivational aspirations that can also each be a part of why you are looking to divorce your spouse. In other words, there are many positives that one can hope to achieve by finally moving past a broken marriage and onto the next phase of your life.
For those of you considering whether to take that step forward in the new year, here are a few reasonable and achievable goals to get you started:
- Find the right divorce attorney – I often say that finding the right divorce attorney will be one of the most, if not the most important thing you do when getting started. I cannot express how many people come to us after having retained another attorney with whom they are dissatisfied for any number of different reasons. Be sure that you are comfortable with the attorney you are hiring. What is the attorney’s reputation and style? Can you get along with that person – does his or her personality mesh well with your own or do you feel like you’re talking to a stranger every time you get on the phone? How responsive is the attorney to your needs? Does the attorney exclusively practice matrimonial law? For so many reasons, finding the right divorce attorney for you is about finding the right fit for who you are and what your ultimate goals are in your case.
- Outline your divorce goals – To that end, where do you want to end up when your divorce matter comes to an end? If you have children, do you want to be the primary custodian? Do you have plans on living elsewhere? From a financial standpoint, do you want to stay in the house? What are your needs? What are the children’s needs whether for basic essentials, child care, sports, medical and educational needs and more? If you have been out of the workforce or are looking for a career change, what are your plans going forward? While answering all of these questions at the outset of the process may be difficult, having a sense of where you want to go will not only help you visualize how you want to get there, but it will also help guide your attorney in advising you of your legal rights and advocating for your desired position.
- Gather your financial documents – In determining where you want to end up at the end of the divorce, know where you are at the starting line. To the extent possible, gather together as many financial documents to which you have access regarding your incomes, financial accounts, home, family business, monthly expenses and more. Knowing what you have early on will help establish the marital universe within which you can establish those goals and aid your attorney in developing a strategy for your case. Having access to such information can take on an even greater level of urgency should you be dependent on financial support from a spouse who has suddenly decided that he or she no longer wants to allow you to live in a way that carries any resemblance to how you lived during the marriage.
- Rely on your support system and professionals – We all want family and friends around us during the more stressful times in our lives and a divorce is certainly no exception. Having people to confide in and talk to about choosing your attorney, as well as the choices you make during the divorce matter can be more important than you’ll ever realize. Also, do not hesitate to start meeting with a therapist or divorce coach if you have not already done so in an effort to better or strengthen your frame of mind as you go through the process. Having someone to confide in other than family members, friends and a divorce attorney, let alone someone with a professional background trained to help get you through difficult times, could prove invaluable.
The new year presents a clean slate and a chance to make positive changes in our lives that we may not have otherwise been ready for. With the above steps in mind, you will hopefully be better prepared when the time is right to make the decision that is right for you.