Every couple fights. It’s an inevitable part of humans living together—conflict happens, and we deal with it (or don’t) and move on, right? But how do you differentiate between those arguments that pass and those that contribute to the brick wall that slowly goes up between two spouses? Some people can see the end of their relationship coming. They know there are irreconcilable differences, and legal separation or divorce feel like the only two options out there.
But for those who have a hard time seeing that wall being built, divorce can be a smack in the face. They’re blindsided by the fact that their spouse is unable or unwilling to continue in their marriage. If you find yourself in this difficult situation, where your husband or wife asks for a divorce out of the blue, it can be extremely difficult and painful to walk through.
Sudden Divorce Syndrome Is More Common Than Most Realize
The sad fact is that this is a common scenario, so much so that it’s been given a name: “Sudden Divorce Syndrome.” While this usually affects men more than women, regardless of who is the one shocked, the marriage often starts unraveling way before the divorce was asked for.
Discussions online about Sudden Divorce Syndrome often assume impulsive behavior on the part of the woman, yet nothing is further from the truth.
The decision to divorce didn’t come easy and wasn’t so sudden. Dr. Donna Ferber, a psychotherapist, goes on to say that perhaps a better term would be “Shocked Divorce Syndrome” because that is how most men feel when their wife asks them for a divorce. The woman has likely spent years trying to make the tough decision, feeling like she is making every effort to keep her marriage together.
Of course, sometimes the gender roles are reversed. A woman may be blindsided when her husband asks for a divorce or decides “on the spur of the moment” to move out of the family home. However, this is not as common.
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Where do We Go From Here?
While your spouse has obviously had time to think about and prepare for this moment, you are likely feeling confused, hurt, and probably angry. Keep your cool and take it one step at a time when handling a sudden divorce demand.
If you have been blindsided by divorce, follow these helpful tips:
Taking hard news in stride is much easier said than done, but it is still extremely important that you try to retain a sense of calm in the face of such a shock. Your spouse’s sudden blow might have hurt you, angered you, or embarrassed you, but the last thing you need at this point is to say or do something you’ll regret later.
Remember, your spouse has already been processing and accepting the idea of divorce. They’re ready to move on, but you need time to do the same. So try to remain civil, collect your thoughts, ask only the necessary questions, attempt constructive conversation, and take some time for yourself.
This step is especially important if you have children. It’s one thing to blow up at your spouse when nobody else is around to suffer for it. However, if you have children, any damage you do to one another is likely to impact your kids negatively. Even if they aren’t in the home when your spouse breaks the news, you and your spouse must remain civil, at the very least, for the sake of your kids. Your reaction could also affect your child custody case later on.
You are in the early stages of grief, while your spouse may be ready to sign the papers and finalize your divorce. Anything you say or do that is uncivil or comes from a place of anger might be used against you when it comes time to negotiate for property division, custody, spousal support, and more.
Find Your Support System
This is going to be one of the hardest times in your life. If you have a support system— loved ones, family members, church community, good friends—this is the time to accept help from them. They can be there for you as the divorce progresses, including with your children. You may want to tell them that you are not looking for legal advice or psychological help from them. You just need them to be there and support you during this time.
This may also be the time to find a counselor for yourself, or you and your spouse together. Because this is a type of loss, you’ll find yourself going through the stages of grief, and you may need help processing your thoughts and emotions. Whether you can get your partner to go to therapy with you or not, you should also see a counselor on your own.
Between lawyer meetings and court dates, you’re going to need all the help you can get. Consider your options for babysitters, in-court support, and more early so that you do not have to worry about it at the last minute.
Start Protecting Yourself
While the shock of the situation may still be fresh, you have to start protecting your interests immediately. Divorce can bring out the worst in people, so even if you think your spouse is still a decent, caring person, you have to make sure you are protected. They’re doing the same thing, and they already have a head start on the proceedings.
If you don’t already have a family attorney, now is the time to consult with a few different firms to get an honest, legal assessment of the situation. You’ll need help separating finances, understanding the legality of divorce, gathering important documents needed for court, etc. An experienced family attorney can help you walk through the whole process.
Most divorce cases do not go to trial, but there will still be tense situations when you will want to have someone on your side to advocate for your best interests. It can be especially difficult to go toe-to-toe with someone you may not even want to divorce. Having a divorce attorney who can handle it is crucial to reduce your stress and make it easier.
Think About the Future
Being positive during this situation may seem impossible, but you do have a future to think about. While you must allow yourself to be upset and grieve the loss of your marriage, it’s equally important that you try to stay encouraged. Every person is different and divorces end in several ways, but it never hurts to be your own advocate.
Instead of focusing on what you are losing, try to focus on the new opportunities you might have after divorce and invest your energy into your own well-being. Get back into your old hobbies and try some new activities. Spend time with friends. Consider the things you have always wanted to do but never had the chance.
Connect With an Attorney As Soon As Possible
A family law attorney can help you navigate the Alabama divorce process, explaining your options before the filing, during the process, and as the case moves forward. It can be difficult in the heat of it to think of:
- All the things you need to consider
- The decisions that must be made
- The pitfalls to look out for
This is why consulting with and hiring a law firm as soon as possible is crucial. As the case proceeds, your attorney’s knowledge of Alabama divorce law will become even more essential.
Having someone on your side who knows the necessary steps, how to protect your assets, and how to fight for your priorities can reduce your worries and improve the outcome in your case.
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If a divorce complaint in Alabama has blindsided you, and you want an attorney in your corner, contact us at Charlotte Christian Law. Our staff can help you navigate the waters of a sudden divorce and make sure your assets are handled properly. We guide our clients through the process from start to finish and stand by your side during this tough time.
Give us a call today to learn more. We have offices in Huntsville and Athens, Alabama. Dial (256) 859-7277 now.
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