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Facing the Challenge of Deciding If Divorce Is Your Best Option

When making vows to each other on a wedding day, spouses are typically contemplating a long life together. They don't assume the marriage will ultimately end in divorce. However, it can become apparent, sometimes quickly, that the marriage was a mistake due to subsequent abusive behavior or emergence of unknown addictions or personality flaws.

In some cases, divorce will be the best option for all concerned. Alternatively, under certain circumstances, making a committed effort to save the relationship with the person you fell in love with can result in a stronger marriage that lasts for years. Choosing which path to follow is rarely easy.

People sometimes simply fall out of love or discover many years into the marriage that their interests have changed. In some cases, domestic violence, alcoholism, infidelity and other issues create challenges that require serious soul searching, separation or decisive action to even have a chance for saving the marriage.

Warning Signs

There are many questions you can ask yourself to begin evaluating your true feelings about your marriage.

If it were not for your children, would you and your spouse have anything to discuss? Do you enjoy being with your spouse or do you dislike your spouse's company? Has sex become a chore or unfulfilling? Do you fantasize about how life would be if you were single? Do you feel in control of your life or that your spouse controls you? Would you want your child to have a marriage like yours?

The answers to these and other questions may provide warning signs that your marriage is in trouble and something needs to change.

Tension in a marriage can be triggered by incidents that are not directly related to the relationship. Loss of a job, financial difficulties or a death in the family can all create stress that may lead to inappropriate behavior or hurtful comments. Sometimes the passage of time will resolve the issues creating marital tension.

Where difficulties are more directly related to the dynamics of the marital relationship, the key to success usually requires that both spouses see a problem and both are committed to fixing it. The solution might be found through couples counseling or taking a class to help improve communication between you and your spouse. For those wishing to maintain privacy, simply consulting some of the many self-help books available can provide valuable insight.

The Tougher Issues

The existence of infidelity, addiction, abuse or mental health issues often complicates the decision whether to divorce. However, given some scenarios, these issues can make divorce much easier to justify.

Abuse in any form, whether physical, emotional, mental or sexual, should not be tolerated in marriage. At the very least, separating from the abuser for a while should be a priority. If the abuse is directed at your children, you have an obligation to protect them and remove them or the abuser from the situation. If the abuse is directed at you as a spouse, you need to make your safety a priority and realize that children who witness abuse typically suffer emotional problems as a result.

An ongoing pattern of abuse typically provides the strongest reason to get a divorce. That's not to say that an abuser cannot change or that a marriage where abuse has existed cannot be saved. However, more often than not, the best solution for abused spouses and children is ending a marriage.

Infidelity in a marriage does not provide such a clear-cut reason to pursue divorce. While a majority of married people say they would end their marriage if their spouses were unfaithful, statistics have shown that 50% or more of the couples who have dealt with infidelity chose to remain married.

Numerous factors may come into play. Was the affair a one-night stand or did it last for an extended period? Does the cheating spouse take responsibility and feel truly remorseful? Is the cheating spouse willing to work to repair the marriage? 

Moving past infidelity can be difficult, but with the help of an effective counselor and a commitment from both spouses, marriages have been saved.

Addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex or pornography presents significant challenges for a marriage. Sometimes the marriage can be saved if the addict makes saving the relationship a priority. But if it becomes clear that drinking is the addict's priority or that excessive gambling threatens the family's financial stability, ending the marriage may be the best choice.

Addiction is treatable. The key is the addict's desire to get help. The addict must truly want to end the addiction. Without that desire, positive results will prove elusive. To help motivate the addicted spouse to seek help, separation for some time should be considered.

Mental health issues such as a borderline or narcissistic personality disorder, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder can present insurmountable challenges for a marriage. Like addictions, mental health issues can be treated. Depending on the severity, separation may be warranted until the condition is better under control. The willingness of the afflicted spouse to seek and maintain treatment should be a major factor in deciding whether the marriage can be saved.

Even after divorces have been started, couples sometimes find ways to reconcile. Getting served with divorce papers can be a shocking wake-up call for a neglectful spouse. With the help of a professional counselor or a trusted religious leader, many couples have overcome marital problems. Successful reconciliation is more likely for couples who were older when married, are closer in age, have more education or who have the same religion and practice it regularly.

Deciding whether or not divorce will be the best option to improve your life and the lives of your children is one of the most difficult exercises you will ever undertake. Ultimately, no matter what friends, colleagues or others advise, the decision must be yours. Only you truly understand the current marriage dynamics. Consulting an experienced family law attorney can provide valuable information that may help to make your decision. Call the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen today at 201-845-7400 for a initial consultation.  

Client Reviews
Peter has integrity, and values his relationships with his clients beyond his financial relationship with them. For me to say this about any lawyer is really saying something. He is compassionate, straightforward and knowledgeable. I would easily recommend him to anybody. Lewie W.
Peter Van Aulen handled my case with great diligence and integrity. He is also a compassionate individual who realizes what a difficult time divorce can be emotionally. Peter works hard and doesn't take any shortcuts in preparing for a case… I highly recommend Mr. Van Aulen and his staff. Chuck Solomon
Peter is an exceptionally great attorney. He handled my child custody case and was able to ease any of my concerns with honest answers. He always took the time to explain the pros/cons and was always available to answer any questions that I had… I would highly recommend this attorney to anyone who is looking for one. Jessica Cruz
Peter Van Aulen is a very compassionate, honest and straightforward person. He was there for me at my lowest point with a genuine concern not only for my situation, but for me and my child's well being above all… He is fair and he is strong and when push comes to shove he is there for you. Cathy Dodge
Our cousin used Peter's law office to help with a sticky custody situation. He was extremely responsive, very nice and most importantly did an awesome job with the court! He is awesome. Lawrence Polsky

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