Deciding Checklist: Should You Stay in Marriage?
Here’s What To Do (and What Not To Do)
Should you stay and work on your marriage, or is it time to consider your options? When we find that special someone we consider our partner in life, we never consider that something might happen to make us think otherwise. You’re here for that very reason. You are thinking about whether your relationship is salvageable, or whether it’s time to say goodbye. No one can give you an answer. You have to come to that decision on your own. But while you’re examining your options, here are a few things you should consider.
1. CONSIDER THE REALITIES IF YOU SPLIT.
Think about your life now versus your life if you get divorced. Really consider “the realities of divorce,” on your emotions, finances, living arrangements, work, children, family, friendships, religious affiliations, and your world. If you are a spouse who makes the majority of the money — regardless of gender, make certain you understand your state’s laws well enough so that you know what your financial commitments to your former spouse or your children may be, if you decide to pursue a divorce. Write down the ways in which your life will change for the positive and for the negative. This may help you clearly see the options.
2. CONSIDER GETTING MARRIAGE COUNSELING.
Is the problem in your relationship one of communication, trust, or based on some other emotion that you can still work through? Would a marriage therapist help? If you haven’t already considered this, there are therapists who specialize in helping couples during a troubled time. If it’s still possible, you should consider talking to a professional and asking your spouse if they would do the same. If you cannot afford a professional therapist, some cities or counties offer low-cost options. Many religious organizations offer counseling or support as well.
3. THINK ABOUT FINANCIAL COUNSELING.
Some marriages fail because of financial stress caused by two differing financial personalities (one is a saver and one is a spender). Or worse, both are spenders and neither knows how to keep the other on a financially firm foundation. If this is the case in your life, you should consider getting some financial help you get out of debt and learn how to keep your spending habits under control. If this is your problem, financial counseling may help.
4. TALK WITH YOUR SPOUSE.
Tell them what you’re thinking and why and see if you can seek out marriage counseling to resolve the issues that both of you may have. If abuse is not involved, it’s better to save your marriage if possible, particularly if there are children involved. If you decide to leave your partner, communication will remain a key to resolving your issues along the way in a civil manner, so try to keep communication lines open.
5. CONSIDER A BANK ACCOUNT IN YOUR NAME.
While considering the answers to the questions above, finances will also be a top concern. To secure your financial future, no matter what you decide, you should go to the bank and open a bank account in your own name. Stop directly depositing into marital bank accounts. Have the checks sent to you and deposit them yourself or send them to your new account. Then, if you make the decision to leave, you will have access to money in your own name, which your spouse cannot touch.
6. CONSIDER A SAFETY DEPOSIT BOX.
If you have things that are important to you, whether it’s jewelry or documents, consider obtaining a safety deposit box when you open the bank account. This is particularly important if you are concerned about what will happen if you move decide to leave. If it’s not a safety deposit box, consider some other way to safeguard your valuables. Remember to keep track of what you’ve taken. Give the list to your attorney.
7. SAFEGUARD YOUR CREDIT.
Another financial concern will involve your credit and your credit rating, which you must safeguard, regardless of what happens. You should always have at least one card in your name only. Call your credit card companies and make certain that you can do this. Watch your credit rating and make sure nothing unusual is happening with your finances. Consider whether you should cancel all joint accounts. Why? If you decide to leave, your spouse cannot run up debt that, because your name is on it, you will be legally liable to pay.
8. START SAVING MONEY.
Why? If you decide to divorce, you will have to pay legal fees. You may want to hire a financial planner. You may have to relocate. In fact, you may need money for a number of other expenses that occur as you move from one home back into two. In addition to the emotional toll, divorce takes a financial one as well - particularly for women, who generally do not make as much money as men. Stop any contributions to retirement funds or other accounts you’ve contributed to during your marriage. Any contributions you make can be attached if you do file for a divorce. Put this money into your new bank account, instead. It can’t hurt to be prepared.
9. GATHER YOUR IMPORTANT PAPERWORK.
Know whose names are on them, how much they entail and what your debts and assets are. Don’t forget the account numbers, which are important. If you decide to file for a divorce, this will be important. Among the paperwork, you should have copies of life insurance policies, home insurance, safe deposit boxes, CDs and other investments, house deeds, car deeds, etc. If your spouse owns a business or is employed, you will need documentation of that as well.
10. CONSIDER A POST-NUPTIAL AGREEMENT.
This kind of agreement can be entered into before a divorce. It can be used to amend a prenuptial agreement if you have one (because you’ve gotten into a business venture since your marriage or your financial circumstances have significantly improved). It also can be used to create emotional and financial security in reconciliation as you try to give your marriage another try.
11. DON’T LEAVE YOUR HOUSE.
If you’re considering divorce, do not leave your home — with or without children — unless you talk with an attorney in your area first about your legal rights. Why? Divorce laws vary by state and can affect everything from your financial support to custody of your children. However, you should disregard this if you feel your situation is abusive and you are afraid for your safety. If that’s the case, get help immediately.
12. CONSIDER COUNSELING FOR YOURSELF OR YOUR CHILDREN.
If you’re struggling with your relationship at home, sometimes it helps to have someone to talk with. Whether you can afford a professional or not, there’s always someone who can (and will) help. Many companies offer employee assistance programs. Some health insurance policies (and now is a good time to check to make certain yours is up-to-date) will pay for a certain number of mental health appointments if you choose a professional in your program. Your children may also need help. Most importantly, if you are in an abusive situation, seek help from a local non-profit who can advise you on shelters, counseling and other help for you and your children, if you have them.
13. MAKE SURE YOUR PAYMENTS ARE UP-TO-DATE.
Whether it’s your car or your house, make sure everything is getting paid in a timely fashion. Now is not the time to quit your job and stop paying certain bills. If you have to take over the home payments or sell the house and move into a rental, you don’t want to worry about how your payment history looks to a potential creditor or landlord. The same is true of any cars in your name or jointly owned. Beyond that, you should begin to think about whether your spouse or you will take over the payments if you decide to file.
These tips were collected from experts and articles on Wevorce.com. If you have a suggestion to add to the list, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.