People in difficult relationships often hope for the best. But is it wiser to prepare for the worst? Many partners think their situation will sort itself out. Others consider all the years they’ve had with their partner and believe their marriage can weather any storm. But if the marriage deteriorates further, even optimistic spouses may need to consider other solutions.
If marital strife is making you miserable, when should you talk to a lawyer about your options?
Why sooner is the smartest choice
While many spouses hesitate to contact a lawyer until the last moment, it’s advisable to consult with an attorney early on to protect yourself should you or your spouse decide to proceed. The earlier the better, in fact. There are a handful of reasons why you should see a lawyer as soon as you start thinking about divorce.
- If your spouse files for divorce first, you will have legal representation lined up and ready to assist you—no more research or interviews. You’ve already taken care of it.
- There are several options for divorce, including litigation, mediation and collaborative law. An experienced lawyer can advise you as to the best way to proceed—if you choose to do so at all.
- If you are a parent, your first concern is likely your children. Early counsel on child support and a feasible parenting plan is essential. It’s better to have a plan of your own making to present than to wait for another party to do it. Your lawyer can write a favorable plan that will remain defensible if challenged.
- It is unwise to make informal arrangements for dividing anything like possessions and property. These “handshake agreements” often hold more weight than you think and can be difficult to alter later. It’s best to wait for either mediation or the court to settle matters.
We all hope for a good resolution to these situations. However, sometimes the best outcome is divorce—and that’s okay. Prepare for whatever the future holds by getting the advice you need to make an informed decision.