Full disclosure, this is not an expert article or legal advice; it is an opinion article founded on great convictions of the heart and the reality of what divorce actually is. Yes, what you think divorce is and what it will do for you is not the truth. It feels like the perfect escape route to your dreams that seem to be held captive by marriage. Divorce is not an escape. It is purgatory and I’m not Catholic. It is wicked. It is vile. It is the worst option imaginable. How can divorce be so horrible in a country that prides itself on an impeccable justice system? There is no one watching. Family Law operates on an island floating between politics and corruption. There are a few decent human beings sprinkled here and there in the industry; however, the whole system is terribly and utterly broken.
If you find yourself contemplating divorce. Think again! The only justifiable reason for divorce is abuse; however, many courts do not care what reason you use (this is a no-fault philosophy). You must consult an attorney to understand whether or not your court is following a fault or no-fault stance (fault is rare these days even if there is evidence). In fact, if you are in an abusive situation it could get worse whether you are filing or responding. At this point you must be scratching your head. That’s exactly what you should be doing. Please think long and hard about your [INSERT PROBLEM] before you consider divorce. Divorce use to be taboo; it use to be a matter that was kept as private as possible; it use to be avoided.
NEWSFLASH, the system was designed to punish those who enter it.
Once one person in the relationship decides to file divorce papers with the court or with an attorney, both people are stuck with litigation. You found this content, so this article is for you. If you file for divorce from your spouse you will be called the petitioner. The almighty one who cannot stand being united to a person that creates [INSERT PROBLEM]. Some people take this opportunity to make the problem spouse look completely unbearable and attorneys for the petitioner take this opportunity to embellish every crooked detail with their own prose. The theory, if the story is more grand, the better off everyone is (at least that is the initial agreement by everyone involved for the first 6 months of your divorce).
Unless you are experiencing the four quadrants of abuse (physical, emotional, neglectful and psychological abuse) divorce may not be worth it for you. Note: financial abuse falls under both emotional and psychological abuse and sexual abuse falls into every quadrant (in my opinion). Note: please call the authorities if you feel you are in physical danger at any point in your relationship. Do not hesitate.
It is very possible you have several things in each quadrant or only one thing in one quadrant. Please list everything that your spouse is doing in each quadrant. Get it all down on paper. Then go see a therapist! It will probably take you at least 3 months to find a good therapist that is a good fit for you. Imagine how long it takes to find a good attorney! There is no time to waste get started. You may have to have several before you find the right one.
After you have been in therapy and you still decide divorce is your only option, please evaluate if litigation is what you really want. Some people have no choice, but without evaluating your situation you could be stuck litigating when you could have done something entirely less stressful and less expensive.
Here is your checklist if you have too many things in each quadrant:
1. Is your marriage less than 5 years?
2. Do you have any assets (property, retirement, etc.)?
3. Do you have any children?
If your marriage is less than 5 years and you do not have any assets or children, you do not have to litigate! You can file for divorce online.
If your marriage is less than 5 years and you have assets and no children, you should consider mediation.
If your answer is “yes” to all, you should consider mediation.
If your answer is “no” to #1 and “yes” for the rest OR “yes” to #2 OR #3, mediation and litigation are the only options (if you know of more options please be so kind and leave me a comment).
Hopefully your problem is not so big that you cannot reconcile it with your spouse and work through it to have a better and stronger relationship in the end. Divorce is not for the unhappy, it is for the those that need to save their lives or protect their sanity. Happiness is fixable. Abuse unfortunately does not have a sustainable remedy. Additionally, even after divorce the person who endured abuse can still be at risk. Do not go back to your abuser or your abuser’s family at anytime.