The Pew Research Center reports that only half of all first marriages that began in 1970 lasted longer than 25 years. Most couples don't expect to divorce, but many who find themselves at an impasse in their relationship believe divorce is the answer.
If you think you might be headed in that direction, there are things you should do before you considering ending your marriage.
- 1. Seek professional counseling for either yourself or both of you. Counseling is available and can help you determine whether you truly want to pursue a divorce. Perhaps what you really want is a better marriage with the person you're already married to. Or you and your spouse might be experiencing an unusual but temporary amount of stress, and a counselor could help you through it.
- 2. Talk to an attorney immediately. It is critical that you have legal guidance before you begin the divorce process because divorce laws are complicated; many things you do before you file can affect your divorce.
- 3. Tell your attorney if you're having an affair. This is something you should not talk about with anyone else, including your spouse. In the state of North Carolina, adultery is illegal and can be used against you during your divorce. Specifically, it may affect the amount of alimony you might have to pay.
- 4. Protect your assets. You may want to remove certain items that have high liquid values from the marital home so they can't be sold before assets are divided. You may also want to file a "Lis Pendens" on any property you own together; this ensures that you'll be notified if anyone tries to sell the property.
- 5. Stay in your home. You should speak with an attorney about the ramifications of leaving the marital property. In some cases, you might not be able to return to your home if you're living elsewhere and a judge is dividing up the marital property. One exception would be if you or your children are in any danger if you remain in the home.
Get Legal Help If You Need It
It's possible to overcome many marital difficulties, but not all of them. Marriage isn't easy -- and neither is divorce. A divorce lawyer can help you understand the divorce process, but it is critical that you speak with yours before you make the decision to end your marriage.