It’s one thing to imagine your life single, free from your marital partner and able to do what you want, when you want, with whom you want, and with no one to answer to, among other things (putting aside serious situations where there is abuse in a home, and continuing to live with a partner is simply not safe). It’s a whole other thing to actually follow through with the divorce process and essentially trade in one life for what is likely going to be an entirely new life.
And in most cases, a person doesn’t have a very clear view – and may have no view at all – of what that post-divorce lifestyle might look like and, perhaps more to the point, how it will compare to the life they are living now in the marriage. Which is scary. But it doesn’t mean you need to be stuck where you are at without doing anything to assess what your life might be like post-divorce.
What a Family Law Attorney Can and Can’t Tell You About Your Post-Divorce Lifestyle
You can think of the effects of divorce, whether positive or negative, as falling into three major categories: 1) your finances; 2) your personal/emotional life; and 3) your relationship with your minor children, which often involves both your finances and your personal/emotional life.
With regard to your finances, speaking to a family law attorney can provide you with significantly improved clarity, if not necessarily certainty, on what your lifestyle may look like after a divorce. No matter how many TV shows or movies you’ve seen or stories from friends and family you’ve heard regarding divorce, you may be surprised and even shocked by how your state divorce laws will affect you following divorce. If you’re the high earner in the marriage, all that money you thought you were going to have to devote to yourself could actually be going towards spousal support and child support. Likewise, one spouse who may think they could never survive on their own may be surprised to learn how much property and spousal/child support they could be entitled to in a divorce. With this information, you can begin to plan where you might live and what your budget will be in your new single life.
Similarly, a family law attorney can help guide you on what custody arrangements and child support could occur in a divorce and disabuse you of incorrect preconceived notions, e.g. the mother always gets custody, or you don’t have to pay child support if you have 50/50 custody (to be clear, these are in most cases both false!).
As for the personal and emotional side of things, your attorney can perhaps share other people’s stories with you (not the confidential details, of course), but your attorney can also work with a divorce coach (trained mental health professional) to help guide you on your new journey.
In any case, it is always important to understand that speaking with a family law attorney about a potential divorce is not the same as filing for divorce. It’s just a conversation, and you are under no commitment to follow through (and no attorney should be pressuring you against your will to move forward with divorce).
Don’t Be Shy in Seeking Advice to Help You Assess Whether to Move Forward with Divorce
Make no mistake, you should absolutely be assessing what changes to your personal and emotional life may come as a result of divorce. Many people love their post-divorce lives. Others, quite honestly, do find themselves second-guessing whether the freedom they sought was worth losing their partner, especially when they find re-entering the dating pool or simply going it alone is not quite what they hoped for.
Seek out people who have gone through the divorce process – and ideally people whose situations at the time of divorce are similar to yours now with regard to factors such as age, socioeconomic status, whether they had children and what age at time of divorce, friendship networks, worldviews, approaches to relationships and dating, family support, and so on – to hear what their stories of life after divorce are like, and what advice they may have for you.
Maybe this means asking friends, or friends of friends, seeking recommendations from therapists and other professionals, or going to in-person and online support groups to find these people. In any case, you can be discreet with these inquiries and request confidentiality, but you should not be shy. Divorce is a huge step, and going into it without talking to others who have gone ahead of you prevents you from best preparing for what comes next, or whether to go through with it at all.
Guidance on Your California Family Law Questions From a Westlake Village Family Law Attorney
If you would like to learn more about how our office can provide guidance on any California family law issues you are facing in Ventura County or Los Angeles County, contact the Zonder Family Law Group office today at (805) 777-7740 or (818) 877-0001, or schedule your strategy session using easy-to-use online form here.