If you made it through the Winter holidays relatively unscathed (emotionally and physically) give yourself a HUGE pat on the back… and breathe. The holidays (from Thanksgiving until Jan. 2nd) are usually the most stressful time during the year to be either a) unhappily married or b) divorced. If you are unhappily married, you may have made a commitment to make this year the year you change your situation. You may have decided to go to marriage counseling, or you may have decided to see an attorney. Since I’m not a licensed counselor, let me address the second option. One of the first things I tell people when they make an appointment to see me is that seeing a divorce attorney does not mean you are getting divorced. It does mean that you are getting information to let you make the best decision possible for you and your family.
People are always surprised by the amount of paperwork and information needed to file for divorce. Seeing a divorce attorney is really just a meeting to figure out issues like: a) whether you can afford to get divorced?, b) what are the possible custody arrangements for your kids?, c) what information do you need to gather to get this show on the road?, d) what steps should you start taking to protect yourself as best you can if you do get divorced?, e) do you need to hire an attorney and if so, is this the person you want to hire?, and f) what will your future look like post-divorce? These are all questions you should ask yourself and the attorney during that first meeting.
Going to that initial meeting, listening to the advice the attorney has to give, and understanding what is involved in going through a divorce, can be very helpful to you in planning your future. After many of these initial meetings, I have had clients tell me how relieved they are to know what they need to do and what their options are. The options are usually a lot less scary than you imagine; in this case, the old adage about fear of the unknown being the greatest fear holds true. So arm yourself with information; it doesn’t mean the end of your marriage, but it can mean the end to a great deal of worry.