Getting Started on a Divorce
Archived Q&A and Reviews
I've been contemplating divorce for about a year now. It's not easy, we have two kids, a house, generally a good life. but we are completely different people now, there's no love left, only resentment and blame.. I don't see how this could get better. At any rate, i don't even know what steps to take, how does one find an attorney? could I just go in for a confidential consultation? if anyone has recommendations or advice, i'd be grateful. thanks. Anon
Dear Anon - Try reading through this: http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp.htm?genpubtab Then, in this link http://www.courts.ca.gov/1241.htm you can explore how to find an attorney to get legal advice on your particular situation. Good luck! Anon
I recommend that you do some online reading first to think more about what you want in a divorce. There are some great resources out there - NOLO do-your-own-divorce (great tips even if you don't want to do it yourself), the Divorce As Friends website, etc. Also you don't have to have a lawyer unless things are contentious or super complicated. Check out Divorce With Dignity - we used Cindy Elwell and she was great. We used the NOLO stuff to figure out a lot of questions in advance and waited until things cooled down to file official paperwork, and it was affordable (maybe $1,000 or so?) and amicable. Also once you've decided, I recommend the Co-Parenting 101 book and website for support on how to do the best for your kids. It was all super helpful for me. Best of luck to you! good divorce is possible
Divorce generally creates misery for children, and it usually scars them for life. That may sound dramatic, but from their point of view, it is bad stuff. Have you tried therapy? Do you realize that whatever lack of help you both resent now, it will all be more work when you divorce? Whatever money problems you have now will get worse? Why give money to lawyers? Instead, as hard as it may be, try to thank your spouse and compliment your spouse every day. If your spouse tries to start a fight, just don't engage. Stop criticizing your spouse. I believe you can find a way. Tell your spouse that you are turning over a new leaf, and then do it. Anon
Therapy. For you. If you're having trouble deciding, it can make all the difference to have someone rational and impartial to help you think it all through. And then if you decide to do it, having that person as support can be so helpful.
*IF* you decide to pursue divorce, you might want to read up on options before talking to an attorney - lots of people in California go with mediation as a cheaper/more amicable option, but I hear it can be harder to back things down a notch to mediation after you've already started talking to someone about litigation.
I highly recommend the ''divorce options'' workshop put on by the East Bay Center for Collaborative Divorce - they have one of each type of expert (financial, mental health, and legal) there to explain the whole range of options. - Spent years trying to decide before trying therapy
My marriage is nearing its end, but I seem to be unable to take the first real step towards getting a divorce. Im hoping someone can provide some advice on the steps to take to get out.
For background we will be married 5 years in October, we have a 10 month old son. I work part time (at a job I love), but do not make enough money to live on my own in the Bay Area. I have looked for full time work without success.
My husband struggles with chemical dependency issues (alcohol and marijuana), and consequently tends to be irrational, paranoid and mean. Without his knowledge I met with a divorce attorney 6 months ago after he shoved me. Her advice then was based on a fear of more abuse (which I don't honestly have now). I didn't act because suddenly things improved considerably, and truthfully I wasn't ready to take off with a 4 month old.
Lately my husband threatens to divorce me on regular basis, but never follows through. I think we both know we can't go on like this, but are afraid to give up the good things the other contributes to the marriage.
I suspect the easiest thing would be for me to move out, but I would like to keep our house, which I owned before we married (its in both of names now), and again, I dont think I could afford to live on my own before a settlement is reached. Also my husband loves our son tremendously, and has threatened to try for full custody. While Im confident tht won't happen, I don't think he'd let me take him without a bitter fight.
If rational conversations were possible, I'd probably still be trying to save the marriage, so having a straightforward discussion about the situation is not option.
Can anyone provide some guidance on how to get the ball rolling? Is it possible me to file while we're still living together, and if so under the circumstances would that just be stupid? Is there any way (short of experiencing more physical abuse) to force him to leave?
Clearly Im terrified about my ability to start a new life. Im hoping that hearing some of your experiences will give me the confidence I need to get moving. Thanks
I believe that you can get a summary dissolution, and avoid a fair bit of the paperwork, etc., if your marriage lasted five years or less. If you've tried counseling and so forth, or you're fairly sure that divorce is what you need regardless, that time frame might provide some ''incentive'' to act fairly soon. You are certainly strong enough to do this, no matter how scary it seems!
If you need someone to talk to, email me anytime. I can't tell you to get divorced, and I can't tell you to stay together - but I CAN tell you that you have the courage and strength to do what's best for you and your child, no matter how hard it may be. That's why you wrote your post in the first place, after all. Good luck! Kathleen
I want to say that I think that you should seek further legal cousel before you do anything- you are at a different place now than 6 mos ago, and you have at least 3 pressing issues to deal with: your son's welfare and custody, your home, and your fear of your husband.
Since you owned your home before your marriage, and your finances are strained, I would like to see you regain full ownership of your home to expand your options. You can do this if your husband will sign a ''quit claim'' deed relinquishing his share of ownership in the property.
It doesn't sound like he will do this easily, but perhaps you have some leverage in his drug and alcohol problems. Clearly, this has to be approached very carefully since he is unstable.
I think that an effective approach, taken with the advice and help of an attorney only, might be simply to put it in terms that you won't dispute his right to joint custody, in spite of his substance abuse problems, if he will sign the quit claim. This puts a bit of a positive slant on it since you are offering him something he wants- equal parental rights for his son- in return for something you want- your home (which I think is rightfully, if not legally, yours). I think that this could be done without presenting it as an attack.
The fly in the ointment would be if he has something to hold up against you that would endanger your own right to custody of your son.
Don't move out- it sounds like you'd never get your home back- unless an attorney tells you to do so for your own safety. Your safety has to come first. But since this is a very emotional situation for you, you could use some help sorting out your fears, which right now are all mushed together. The right therapist or counselor can help you with reality checks as to whether you are either exaggerating or minimizing your husband's potential for violence because of your other fears.
My experience with 2 past marijuana-addicted boyfriends is that they threaten much more than they actually do, I think because marijuana reduces motivation and the ability to act. But the threats can be pretty awful to have thrown at you. If there is anyone whose support you can enlist, like someone in his own family who he respects, that could help you. Just try and be rational yourself, don't trash him, and don't throw threats back- that will escalate everything and you will feel guilty later. Best of luck, anon
It is terrifying to contemplate divorce, but it sounds like you are being very rational about the whole thing and are making some good decisions! I went through a similar situation some months ago, and here are the words I remember using that got the ball rolling: ''I'm sad that things between us can't work out, and let's try to think about how to make this split manageable for you.'' (Or something like that..) The key to all conversations was to make sure to give control to the ex, bring my feelings in (because they are inarguable...he can't tell me I'm not sad, if I say I am, then I am!), and let him feel like he was somehow ''more right'' about everything (even if I didn't think so). Also, start your new life now! Find child care and start your baby in it, expand or change your job situation so that you can meet your needs without him. As far as getting him to move out, be patient, but try to set a time limit. Say something like ''when do you think you would be able to find a new place to stay'' or ''where do you think you might like to go''. Just try to be deliberate and logical about the whole thing. Have little goals for each conversation: ''now we're going to figure out where you'll live'' ''now we're going to figure out what will happen with the house''. Finally, try to only have these conversations when you both are sober. Be strong!