Fox Family Lawyers
Cynthia Moseley Fox
Attorney at Law
7751 Carondelet Avenue,
Suite 700
Clayton, Missouri 63105
(St. Louis)
314.727.4880

What To Do & What Not To Do When Considering Divorce

“I want a divorce!” If you are married, once married, or thinking about getting married, these words are hard to hear, say or even think about. Yet, the chances are that you or someone close to you has heard them, said them, or considered saying them.

 

Welcome to my world, and to my new column. I am Cynthia Fox, a divorce and family law attorney and mediator, practicing for over 25 years. I have represented hundreds of clients in divorce actions, custody and child support cases, paternity, adult abuse and a myriad of other family law matters. I am also divorced and the “survivor” of a contentious battle with my ex-husband over the custody of our child.

 

I believe this column will be interesting and useful because my area of the law affects so many people, in ways both large and small, and for a substantial part of their lives. We have all heard that “over 50% of marriages end in divorce”, but what I know is that the actual moment of divorce is just one point on a continuum of events, all potentially stressful and difficult. For example, the length of time it takes most people to just decide if they want a divorce exemplifies how painful and painstaking this process can be. According to a therapist colleague, the actual decision to seek a divorce is typically preceded by an “incubation period” lasting 2 to 7 years!

 

What happens during the incubation often determines the kind of divorce that couple will have—bitter and destructive versus civilized and constructive—based upon how the two parties deal with the conflict, anger and anxiety of a partnership coming apart. That is where this column begins: A basic primer on what to do, and not do, if you are considering the possibility of divorce.

 

What You Should Do

If you are thinking about seeking a divorce:

  • Make a list of the 5 things you like least about your marriage, and the 5 you like most
  • Visit a therapist or clergy person to help both of you work on the negative aspects of your marriage--preferably with your spouse (but go even if your spouse won’t).
  • Call a “cease fire”, resolving not to fight over the “little stuff”, even if for just a day or two initially.
  • Focus on this one fundamental question: Would you rather work on your marriage to make it better, or would you prefer to put your efforts into starting your life anew and on your own? If either you or your spouse select the latter, then a divorce becomes the inevitable next step.

 

What Not To Do  

However, by all means, do not:

  • Sign documents without advice of an attorney, even under pressure from your spouse.
  • Share your marital dissatisfactions with your children or try to get them to take sides in your disagreements with your spouse.
  • Have a baby to try to glue your marriage together

 

As the weeks unfold, we will cover much more territory, much more specifically, using actual case histories (with the names changed, of course) to explain and demystify the world of family law and divorce. We will discuss adulterous and/or abusive spouses, property division, motions to modify existing decrees, pre-nuptial agreements, and on and on. Along the way, you’ll have questions, and I’ll answer some of those as well. However, you should not strictly rely on anything you read here as legal advice. Rather, please consult with a qualified attorney. Until we meet again next week, stay well and stay constructive!