Whether you should dissolve your marriage may be one of the most important and difficult decisions you will ever face. Take time to reflect and process. Divorce is a major life change. There will be significant issues to deal with and associated stresses. You don't want to approach the question from an emotional perspective only, although that's certainly part of it. You need to approach a divorce as a decision requiring evaluation of many issues. We've put together a list of things to think through as you make a final decision about whether a divorce is the right course of action for you.
About the Children:
- Who will the children live with?
- Will there be joint custody?
- If they live with your spouse, how often will you be able to visit them? How often will they be able to stay overnight with you?
- How will you and your ex-spouse make decisions about the children, such as their health, education, religion, and welfare?
- Who pays for the children's living expenses? Their education? Their travel?
- How are the children's expenses paid for and by whom? Will those expenses be shared?
About Spousal Support and Child Support:
- Will you receive spousal support or need to pay it? How much and for how long?
- If financial circumstances change significantly for you or your spouse, will support be increased or decreased?
- Who will be entitled to claim the children as exemptions for income tax purposes?
About Your Home:
- Who will live in the marital home during the divorce process?
- Will one of the spouses keep the marital home or will it be sold? And if sold, how will the proceeds be divided?
- If you decide to sell the home, will both spouses be involved in the sale and closing? Who will set the selling price? Will the property be listed with a broker?
- Who will be responsible for major repairs and the costs of preparing the home for sale?
- Who will be entitled to deduct the mortgage interest charges and real estate taxes for income tax purposes?
- Who will be responsible for paying any income taxes (capital gains) imposed as a result of the sale of the marital home?
- Will you keep life insurance for the benefit of your children?
- Who will be the beneficiary of such insurance?
- Will either party be obligated to provide medical or other insurance for the benefit of the other spouse? For how long?
- Will either party be obligated to provide medical or other insurance for the benefit of the children? For how long?
- Who will be responsible for paying medical, dental, drug, or hospital expenses for the children when not covered or reimbursed by insurance?
About Income Taxes:
- Who will receive any tax refund currently due on a past joint income tax return?
- If there is a deficiency on a past joint income tax return, who will be responsible for paying the tax, interest, and penalties?
- If you file joint income tax returns for the current year, who will be responsible for paying any taxes due? Who will be entitled to receive any tax refund?
Three Tips to Keeping Your Life on Track
One: Remember that knowledge is power. Don't hide your head in the sand and hope you'll wake up one day and it will all be over. Ask questions, read, study, and make use of our website to stay on top of what you need to know to make good decisions. Use the tools available to you to educate yourself about everything involved in the divorce process.
Two: Remember that you're in control. No one understands your goals and aspirations better than you do. Make sure you consistently voice your needs, concerns, and objectives so that you remain in charge of your life's direction.
Three: Remember that every decision you make in your divorce is a personal decision. As difficult as it may be from time to time, you must keep your emotions at bay and concentrate on allocating marital assets and debts, working through child support, establishing any spousal support, and so on.
Although this list is just a starter, it will give you an idea about the serious issues that you need to consider when contemplating divorce. Your future depends upon your ability to think rationally and strategically about this life-changing period in your life. Whatever has led you to the threshold of divorce, once you've made the decision to end your marriage, you must prepare yourself for what lies ahead in a reasoned and thoughtful manner.