Choosing to move forward with a divorce is a big decision – and one that is not taken lightly. There are many aspects of your life that you will want to consider when determining whether divorce is the right choice for you and your spouse.
What is the appropriate cause of action under which to file?
There are a number of causes of action, or “reasons,” to file for divorce – such as adultery, extreme cruelty, and addiction. These types of filings are known as “fault” causes of action and will require that you prove that the cause of action was in existence during the divorce. For example, you will need to prove that your spouse had an affair, had a substance abuse issue, or acted in a manner that constitutes extreme cruelty. There are also “no fault” bases for divorce in New Jersey – either irreconcilable differences or 18 months of separation. When you are filing under irreconcilable differences, you are simply stating that things didn’t work out for a period of at least six months and that there is not a possibility of reconciliation. There is no need to prove anything beyond that.
Deciding which cause of action you want to file under will be one of your first steps once you retain an attorney. A common misconception in New Jersey divorce law is that you will receive more under the law if you file under a fault cause of action. However, this is not true; you are not entitled to more money, property, or time with the children because your husband cheated on you, for example. Therefore, it is often a recommendation of your attorney that you file under a no-fault provision in order to maintain some civility in your case as it begins.
How will your day-to-day life be impacted?
The one thing that seems basic, in theory, is often the exact same thing that people going through a divorce end up struggling with. While you may be certain that you do not want to be married to your spouse anymore, it may take longer for you to realize the impact of your divorce on your day-to-day life. For example, it’s common for women who primarily raised their children during the marriage to be confronted with the prospect of returning to work. This can be overwhelming and emotional. There are a host of new worries, such as the cost of daycare for young children, a change in schedule for older kids who are used to having a parent home after school, and the fear of returning to something you may not have done in years. These are all things that require thought and planning during the divorce process. It may also be somewhat of a shock the first few times your children go to parenting time with their other parent. You suddenly have time to yourself that you may not have had in years. You may also experience the opposite: shock at the realization that you can’t necessarily see your kids whenever you want, as you previously did.
What will be the financial impact?
This is related to the impact of day-to-day life, but it is also important in its own right. When you go through a divorce, you may receive an award of alimony or child support based on your circumstances. You will also divide your marital property in a process known as equitable distribution. This may mean that you will have a large amount of cash from the sale of the marital residence, for example, or retirement accounts that have been divided but cannot yet be accessed. Whatever the situation, it is a good idea to meet with a financial planner or other financial professional to aid you in creating a budget based on your new reality or managing your assets in the best way for your family.
If you are considering a divorce, contact the attorneys at DeTorres & DeGeorge to discuss your rights and options in proceeding.