Divorce: from the Lovers’ Quarrel to the Courthouse Steps

The Threat of Divorce

Every couple fights, but when the word “divorce” enters the ring, it could be a sign of a looming problem. Marriage can be stressful, and disagreements and fights are an inevitable part of life. But hearing divorce brought up in any argument, big or small, can be terrifying.

It’s impossible to know what your spouse really means when he or she threatens divorce because everyone is different. Everyone has their own expectations, their own way of thinking, and you may never truly understand why they do what they do. A spouse might threaten divorce to: gain leverage in the relationship to make the other spouse do something or stop doing something,  to win the present argument, to project their own fear or insecurity about divorce (thinking it’s better to be first to say it), or to float the idea because it’s something the spouse really wants to happen.

Other Signs

There are other signs of divorce to watch for, advises Psychology Today writer Sam Marguiles. These include: no conflict resolution, emotional disengagement, lack of sex, focus on outside people and activities, disaffection, and increased preparation for the single life. (See Marguiles, Sam for Psychologytoday.com: “The Six Signals of Divorce.” Full text at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/divorce-grownups/200911/the-six-signals-divorce (Last visited Dec. 3, 2018).  

When Should You Take Divorce Threats Seriously?

Whether it’s an uttered word during a heated argument or a nonverbal cue, you should always take the threat of divorce seriously. Whether your spouse truly is considering divorcing you or not, something serious is happening to your marriage that you should not ignore. You must face the fact that your marriage is, at minimum, in trouble and even possibly headed for a divorce.

How to Respond to the Threat of Divorce

Before you respond to the threat of divorce, think about what you want for your relationship and your family in the future and consider how you can deal with the threats. Positive action steps you can take include talking to your spouse about where each of you is presently in the relationship, working (individually or together) on the relationship with a counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, clergy member or other professional, or consulting with a divorce attorney.

If That Doesn’t Work…

There may come an inevitable cliff that the marriage goes over, and can’t climb back up. In Florida, this point of no return is called “irretrievable differences,” the only requirement that must be demonstrated for the “dissolution” – or dissolving – of a marriage.

The dissolution of marriage process can be highly emotional and traumatic for everyone, from the couple ending their union, to children, parents, friends, coworkers, and communities the family is a part of feeling the effects. Think of the classic example of rings after a stone is thrown into a lake; the ripples of a broken marriage can impact many people outside of the relationship, for far into the future.  

Assemble an “empowerment team” for the difficult transitory period – made up of professionals such as a mental health professional, accountant, and most importantly, a lawyer.

How a Lawyer Can Help with Your Divorce

A good lawyer is an expert at separating facts from emotions, which is critically important during a divorce. Your lawyer can help with the filing of a divorce petition, articulating the irretrievable differences between you and your spouse, dividing assets and debts, requesting the correct amount of spousal and child support, determining custody in the best interests of any children, assigning parental responsibilities, and establishing time-sharing schedules.

All of this should be done before the matter is before a court. Proper planning, with the professional guidance of an attorney, can ensure that your rights are protected during a divorce.