The beginning of the year is often a time for self-reflection. It offers a chance at new choices and new directions. For many, those choices revolve around deciding whether to leave a broken marriage.
This is part of the reason people often refer to January as “divorce month,” even though some reports suggest more people file for divorce in March. Every year, there is a seasonal rise in divorce filings. People tend to stick together for the holidays, but once they clear the hustle and bustle of late-October through December, they find themselves stuck, looking for a way out.
Two defining questions
Whether you find yourself among those looking for a way out this year depends largely on how you answer two questions:
- Is your marriage broken?
- Will divorce help you pursue your goals?
It’s often easy to recognize a broken marriage when there’s abuse, infidelity, addiction or other hurtful behaviors. However, these aren’t the only things that can lead to broken marriages. As one woman recently illustrated by sharing her story, marriages can fail even when it seems like both people are good. Even if they act faithfully and treat each other with respect, some couples may simply drift apart. But this doesn’t make the marriage any easier. Every day may still feel dark and heavy, like a cold cup of unhappiness.
You may feel guilty for wanting to leave, but some marriages simply do not work. This is why New Jersey, like every other state, allows for no-fault divorce. You do not have to prove your spouse did anything wrong; you only need to assert that your marriage is broken.
The second question is whether divorce will help you pursue your goals. It’s important that you set goals that are both clear and achievable. Divorce is not magic. You won’t suddenly become a different person. In fact, you’re likely to face some extra financial hardships. Even so, you may gain the freedom you need to change your approach to each day. You may gain the freedom to pursue happiness in ways you had long denied yourself.
The process of divorce is often hard on people. However, you don’t need to make it any harder. By setting clear goals, you can focus your efforts on the things that matter most. The law and courts won’t let you take more than your share of assets. They’ll center questions of child custody on what’s best for your child. But starting with a clear set of goals will allow you to enter negotiations with an idea of what you can concede and what’s worth the fight. Accordingly, it’s often wise to discuss your goals with a divorce attorney even before you file. It’s good to know which of your goals may be reasonable and which may not.
Now is the time to work toward your goals
If your marriage isn’t broken or your goals involve reconciling with your spouse, divorce likely isn’t the best choice for you. You might look for counseling or other ways to make things work.
But if your marriage is broken and your goals no longer involve your spouse, it may be time for a new start. Divorce is the end of your marriage, but it’s also the first step toward a new chapter. With some clear goals and careful planning, that new chapter might just turn out to be the best one yet.