AS an attorney, the writer has handled divorces. In most cases, it has been the writer’s experience, individuals are adamant that the marriage is over and it cannot be rekindled. But what if it can be? Getting divorced is not automatic. The Divorce laws clearly stipulate what the grounds for divorce are within our social context. Here are some things to consider before you see your Divorce lawyer.
1. What is the problem? Is it easily resolved? Or not? : In the event that the problem is transient, it may be something that you can work on with your spouse. Do not head to your lawyer unless and until you have tried to work things out with your spouse first. If the problem is more permanent than your wife isn’t doing the dishes or your husband throws his dirty clothes on the floor, then it may be time to consider a divorce (after trying a few more strategies listed below).
2. Are you ready to get divorced? Emotionally? Financially?: Getting divorced can be a long and painful process or depending on a number of variables, it can take less time, but there is still an adjustment to make. First, emotionally, you have to be ready to deal with the change in lifestyle and second, you have to be prepared financially to file for divorce, as this will incur legal fees, and after the divorce has been finalised, your finances will also change.
3. Have you tried to rekindle? Reconcile? Counselling? Vacation?: Try to reconnect with your spouse, try counselling with either a professional marriage counsellor, an impartial third party, priest, pastor or family friend; and if that does not work try a vacation together, or spending a significant amount of time together alone away from work and distractions. If this does not work, then it may be time to consider getting divorced.
4. Is he/ she cheating on you? Is this the deal breaker if you find out he/she is? : Remember we were considering the nature of the problem earlier? If the problem is that your spouse cheated on you, had an extra-marital affair, then this is a serious breach of your marriage contract. If this occurs, this is a ground for divorce in accordance to our divorce laws. However, you may be the forgiving type, and be willing to overlook one indiscretion. If you do, you must move on and not use the affair as a weapon that you regularly ‘beat’ your cheating spouse with. If you cannot handle the idea of your husband or wife cheating on you, you have sufficient grounds for divorce.
5. Do you still feel loved? Or are you being ignored? Abandoned? Being abused? Verbally or physically? : Has your relationship fallen apart because your spouse no longer spends time with you or is it more than that? Are you being physically and mentally abused by your spouse? This is another compelling reason to end the marriage. Verbal and physical abuse are grounds for divorce. Do not put up with this, it is untenable and you need help! Both the victim and the abuser should seek professional assistance.
6. Are you miserable most of the time? Is it your partner or is it you? : If you are feeling largely unhappy about your relationship, then try to fix it. Consider why you are feeling miserable. Is it really your partner or is it you? Or is it the two of you together? If your careers have taken you in different directions and you don’t spend very much time together, for example, one or both of you travel a lot for work, it can become difficult to spend quality time together and it can take a toll on the marriage. Take to a counsellor, family member or close friend, or simply discuss this with your spouse and find a solution. It may mean travelling less, accompanying each other occasionally on business trips if possible and the like.
7. Do you still communicate? Do you talk to each other or just argue? : Every time you talk to your partner, does it end in another argument about who was supposed to put out the trash or buy the groceries or pay the bills? Is it a constant sea of arguments about everything and anything? If your communication has become largely hostile and adversial, it is time to consider counselling and if this does not work, visit your divorce lawyer.
8. Are you already living separate lives? : Do you and your partner pass each other like ships in the night? Do you no longer spend any time together and check in occasionally like roommates who share a house and pay bills. If the romantic element of your relationship has become non-existent, it is time to address this before it is a permanent fixture in your relationship.
9. What about children? Family?In laws? : Have you and your spouse considered what will happen if you do end the relationship? Who gets custody of the children? How will they be maintained? Remember that your divorce cannot be finalised unless and until the welfare and well- being of the children has been adequately managed and determined either by the parties or the court.
10. Will we have to fight about property? What about the house you inherited from your grandmother? : Property purchased within the marriage is considered community property, in other words property belonging to both spouses. The decision of who gets the matrimonial home and who pays that spouse a lump sum is inevitable. One of the exceptions of community property is any property inherited by one spouse, in other words a gift to him or her- is NOT community property.
Ms. Trudy O. Glasgow is a practising attorney at the law firm Trudy O. Glasgow & Associates, a court-appointed mediator and author in Saint Lucia (and has also taught law at University level in the UK)* Ms. Glasgow is also the Vice President of the Bar Association of Saint Lucia.
This column is for general use only, for advice specifically for your case, please see your lawyer.
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Next week: 10 strange reasons why people get divorced