When you face difficulties in your marriage, you may wonder when divorce is a good idea. Even if you do not yet know if you truly want a divorce, you may have questions about how to make the right choice for you and your family.
Divorce may offer the right choice if you experienced marital challenges for a long time, tried unsuccessfully to improve your situation, and/or if your spouse shows abusive or neglectful behavior toward you or your children. However, every person and every situation comes with different considerations. Therefore, only you—potentially with assistance from a divorce attorney—can decide if you should get a divorce.
Deciding When Divorce Offers the Right Choice for You
Every marriage has highs and lows, and hitting a low patch does not necessarily mean you should divorce.
Instead, you may try other, less drastic actions to solve the problem first, such as:
- Marriage counseling: Marriage counselors can help couples work through their difficulties and determine what each party needs to consider their marriage happy and successful.
- A trial separation: This means you or your spouse would move somewhere else for a while to see how you both react to being without the other. Sometimes, you may need a little time away to see things clearly and help you decide whether you want to go through with a divorce.
- Open communication: Even if you do not hire a marriage counselor to mediate, you and your spouse could benefit from having honest conversations about how you feel and what might save your marriage.
These options can prove difficult and can require a lot of effort. However, if you and your spouse still love each other and want to make your marriage work, they can prove well worth it.
These solutions do not apply in all circumstances. For instance, if you face physical danger because of your spouse, you may need to get away from them as soon as possible. You should not feel guilty for demanding a divorce rather than trying to reconcile with someone who hurt you. Not every marriage is salvageable.
Alabama also recognizes that not every marriage can (or should) continue. Alabama law lists the circumstances under which one or both spouses may file for divorce.
Some of these include:
- Imprisonment: If your spouse receives a prison sentence of more than seven years, you may seek a divorce after two years of prison time.
- Abuse: When one spouse endangers the other with acts of violence, the abused spouse has every right to seek a divorce.
- Addiction: If your spouse developed a drug or alcohol addiction during the marriage, you could cite this as grounds for divorce.
- Infidelity: When your spouse is unfaithful, you may decide to give them another chance, or you may decide to end the marriage. You must decide which option offers the right choice for you.
- “Incompatibility of temperament”: You do not need to suffer a major tragedy to justify a divorce. You only need to show that you and your spouse simply cannot get along based on your personalities.
Seeking a divorce can bring on feelings of shame or failure for many reasons. However, a divorce can offer an important step for both partners to grow in healthy new directions.
A compassionate divorce attorney can assess your situation and determine which legal provision applies.
Considering Your Children’s Needs
You may consider whether you should seek a divorce based on concerns about your children’s wellbeing. While you may worry about your children during and after a divorce, children can benefit from divorce if it helps the parents live healthier lives. After all, a divorce can positively impact both parents.
With proper care and attention, your children can understand the divorce and learn to adjust to the new situation. Everyones’ lives could feel healthier once you and your spouse feel happier.
Understanding Divorce in Alabama
The legal steps necessary before proceeding with your Alabama case depend on:
- Whether you and your spouse both agreed to the divorce
- How many and what assets and debts you need to divide
- Whether or not you have children
Even if you think you know what to expect from a divorce, you should talk things over with a lawyer. They can take the best actions to ensure a fair divorce. They may even point out factors you didn’t realize might affect your divorce.
Here’s what you should know about divorce in Alabama.
An uncontested divorce often makes for the fastest and simplest type of divorce in Alabama. When both parties agree to the divorce’s conditions (e.g., splitting assets or child custody), an uncontested divorce allows you and your spouse to get on with your lives much sooner.
You have a contested divorce if you face any point of contention between you and your partner.
With a contested divorce process:
- You or your attorneys collect evidence (such as interviews) to support your respective positions.
- You or your attorneys meet to negotiate over the points of contention.
- Your attorneys represent you in the courtroom if negotiations stall.
The more assets you and your spouse have, the more difficulties you may face during divorce.
An attorney with experience in high-asset divorce cases can make things easier by:
- Compiling a complete list of all of the assets you need to consider
- Informing you of any laws that dictate how to split certain assets
- Helping you and your spouse agree on how to split contested assets
If you or your spouse is an active-duty member of the U.S. military, you may have special concerns that civilian couples would never have to think about, like whether the civilian partner would continue to receive military benefits based on the active-duty spouse’s service.
As with high-asset divorces, you can protect your rights by hiring a military divorce attorney who can tell you how your service affects your case.
Other Things to Consider About the Divorce Process
When you start thinking about divorce, you may need to consider how the divorce will affect your life and finances. You may need to work through these aspects of a divorce:
Alimony and Child Support
When one spouse makes significantly more than the other or when one spouse does not work at all, it is natural for the more dependent spouse to worry about how they will support themselves and their children after the divorce goes through. However, a court may order alimony payments in your case.
The judge will consider:
- Whether either of you will pay alimony
- The amount of alimony and/or child support that one spouse should pay
- How long the payments will continue (e.g., if child support should end when the children reach the age of majority)
If you have children with your spouse, you may have concerns about who will take care of them after the divorce. If so, conversations about custody should play a prominent role in your divorce proceedings.
You have several options available in terms of custody arrangements, including:
- Sole custody: You or your spouse would bear primary responsibility for the child’s welfare. The other spouse may still retain visitation rights to see the child regularly and/or have the legal right to have a say in big decisions like healthcare.
- Joint custody: You and your spouse would share time with the child. You and your spouse can create a schedule that allows for equitable time or the court can create a schedule for you. For example, your child(ren) would stay with you from Monday through Wednesday and your spouse from Thursday through Sunday. You would then switch off for holidays and vacations.
- Protection orders: Sometimes, one spouse poses a clear and present danger to their children. In such cases, the court can ensure they have restricted or supervised access to the children. In some cases, the parent may have no access to the children.
If you disagree with your spouse concerning childcare, a divorce lawyer can help you fight for the outcome that best serves you and your children.
Divorces can prove expensive, especially if you have a contested divorce.
You would have to pay for:
- The divorce itself
- Fees for requesting documents and evidence from various sources
- Travel expenses (to get to and from the court and other places)
- Childcare expenses (for someone to watch your kids as you deal with your case)
- Attorney’s fees
With all of these costs to think about, you may feel tempted to forego a divorce lawyer and fight your case on your own.
However, this could cost you more in the long run because you probably do not have the same legal savvy as a lawyer concerning:
- Your rights during a divorce
- What assets you could keep and which you must give up or fight for
- How to communicate with judges, lawyers, and others in the legal profession
Hiring a Divorce Lawyer
A divorce attorney can benefit your case in many ways. First, you could feel significant relief knowing that you have a legal professional in your corner fighting for you while focusing on what your life will look like post-divorce.
A lawyer can:
- Tell you more about the different kinds of divorce options you have
- Help you figure out what paperwork to file and when, and then submit that paperwork on your behalf
- Answer any questions you have on any legal topic throughout the case
- Negotiate with your spouse (or your spouse’s attorney) regarding any provision in your divorce
- Inform you about the fairness of any deals offered by the other side or if you should keep fighting for better terms
- Represent you before a family law judge if your case goes to court
- Walk you through the entire process from start to finish
Know You Are Not Alone
It is normal to feel scared and isolated when you go through a divorce. However, it may help you to remember that divorce happens regularly, and many people have gone through it. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the country saw around 7.5 divorces per 1,000 women in one recent year.
If you need emotional support to make it through your divorce, you can consider finding an online or in-person support group with whom you can share your experiences and get advice on how to recover from your divorce.
How Can I Ensure a Divorce Is a Good Idea?
When considering divorce, know that divorce is the right choice when you can see no other way of bettering your situation, even after taking appropriate measures to try to fix things within the marriage.
You may feel conflicted and guilty about ending your marriage, even in the best-case scenario when you and your spouse agree on this decision. Therefore, you may find it helps to consult a divorce attorney to better understand what divorce entails, when and how to get one, and whether this constitutes the right choice for you and your family.
You Can Learn More About Your Divorce Options Through an Evaluation
Determining when divorce is a good idea for you may form one of the most difficult, heartrending decisions you will ever face. Divorce lawyers understand the complex divorce process and the feelings it may generate for you and your family.
Many law firms offer no-obligation evaluations, so you can learn more about your options. Consider whether an evaluation with a law firm could help you clarify whether divorce is a good idea for you and your family. Contact a law firm who can also help you think through approaches to a divorce, such as collaborative divorce.