Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year. New Start.

With a new year upon us, you may be deciding to take charge of your life.  You may be in a marriage that you know is going nowhere and which is slowly draining you of your energy and happiness.

Even with that realization, change can be tough.  People get comfortable in the known situation even if they aren't really happy.

Should you stay in a bad relationship that you know and understand, or should you file for divorce and enter a new and unknown stage of your life?

That's a question that you have to answer.  As long as you stay in a bad relationship, you will see the question again and again.  Maybe you can go to counseling or make other changes, or maybe it's time to leave.  Again, your decision.

January is the frequent filing month for divorce.  Many people decide in advance and wait until after the holidays.  Others make it through the holidays and then decide enough is enough.  If you are tempted to separate and file for divorce in January, here are some suggestions for you:
  • Plan the timing.  Decide when it is safest to separate and when you are prepared.
  • Plan where you are going to live.  You could stay in the same house, you could move out or you could try to get your spouse to move out.  Have a definite plan, including when, where and how you will make the transition.
  • Plan your finances.  Work out your post-separation cash flow plan, with both income and expenses.  Have as much money as possible set aside for your expenses and security.
  • Tell essential family members ahead of time.  You may need their help and you don't want them to be shocked and trying to talk you out of it when you separate.
  • Safeguard what's important to you.  Secure and remove personal things that are important to you, regardless of value.  This can include jewelry, photos, books, personal papers, family items and other things that have sentimental or other value.  These type items often are held hostage or "lost" during the course of a divorce. You can avoid that with planning and acting early.
  • Plan how to break the news.  If your spouse doesn't realize that you are thinking separation or divorce, decide whether it's safe or advisable to discuss the move in advance. Sometimes it's good and sometimes it works out badly.
  • Research for the right attorney.  Consider things like:
  1. Chemistry -- Interview the attorney and decide whether you feel a connection.  Plan to pay for the initial interview. 
  2. Communication -- Talk with the attorney about whether you want frequent communication and what method of communication you prefer.  
  3. Affordable -- Different attorneys charge different amounts, both in hourly rates and in retainers.  There are good attorneys who can handle your case at different costs.  Try to be realistic about what you can afford.
  • Gather financial documents for your attorney to review.  My blogs and website have information about what is helpful.  You should ask your attorney what he/she needs.
  • Finally, try a little empathy.  Spend a little time in your spouse's shoes.  How will he/she react? With anger, relief, agreement, revenge, blame or rationality?  Try to anticipate the reaction and that will help your attorney and you be more effective.
There's a lot to do  if you are wanting to get a fresh start.  Divorce is serious and you will do a lot better if you look and think before you leap!