FAQ: Dissolution of Marriage

When does the divorce begin?

Should I stay married for the sake of the children?

I want a divorce. Can't I just leave?


Can a separation save a marriage?

If I leave the house voluntarily, can I get back in?

Do voluntary payments set a precedent?

Can I date during separation?

It looks like divorce. How can I protect myself?

How should I deal with my spouse during the divorce?



When does the divorce begin?


When you or your spouse first seriously think about ending the marriage. Every married person thinks about divorce or separation from time to time. When these thoughts linger after the anger or frustration has passed, they are a signal to do something because your marriage is breaking down. When the "I want out" thoughts dominate the desire to work things out and you start considering the practical aspects of separation or divorce (change of residence, living expenses, effect on the children), the divorcing process has begun. One begun, the process does not need to end in a divorce. It is the willingness to do something positive as soon as you recognize the process beginning that gives you the best chance of reconciliation.

back to top

Should I stay married for the sake of the children?

Probably not, if they are the only thing keeping you together. The coldness or hostility displayed by you and your spouse is bad for the children and may even interfere later with their own marriages. In reality, though, people rarely remain together just for the sake of the children. Most of the time there are other factors at play, sometimes unconscious ones. In fact, other gratification from a relationship can keep an estranged couple together, even though their marriage is dead. Arrangements sometimes develop between married couples where they only share the household because it is economically or socially convenient. They create their own separate lives within the home, without interfering with or substantially annoying the other. Parties living in a state of truce for many years will often divorce after the youngest child is on his own. If no such gratification exists for you, then deal with your marital problems realistically. Don't just ignore the deterioration of your marriage or mope around about it - solve it, adjust to it or separate.

back to top

I want a divorce. Can't I just leave?


Yes, you can, but talk to a lawyer before your make this crucial decision. In a potentially litigated divorce a number of strategic considerations argue against a spouse's leaving the marital home. For example, if a wife or a husband seeking custody of the children leaves the home without the children, he or she may be at a substantial disadvantage when the actual custody proceedings begin. There are also significant financial considerations involved in any decision to live apart from your spouse which should be discussed with your attorney.

* Reprinted in part from "The Divorce Handbook," by James T. Friedman, Random House, New York (1982) and from The Family Advocate, "Your Divorce" (1992).

back to top

Can a separation save a marriage?

Sometimes, yes. Physical proximity can be a great source of antagonism for couples considering divorce. A change in the status quo is often the first step to saving the marriage. The new perspective gained by separation may help you discover that cause of your dissatisfaction. The actual experience of separation provides a testing period that can alter perceptions of divorce as a solution. The party who is pushing for a divorce on the mistaken belief that physical separation will resolve his or her unhappiness often finds that the contrary is true. Separation then may provide new insight into the cause of unhappiness or the advisability of resuming the marital relationship.

back to top

If I leave the house voluntarily, can I get back in?

The longer you are gone, the more difficult re-entry is likely to be if your spouse opposes it. Even if you have a written agreement that says your leaving will not prejudice your right to return, courts are sometimes reluctant to enforce these agreements if the separation has been a long one. Very often a spouse who is sincerely interested in saving the marriage will agree to leave in order to give the other spouse an opportunity to reconsider. However, by making such an arrangement, the departing spouse takes a very real chance that no re-entry will be possible.

back to top

Do voluntary payments set a precedent?

Yes, very often they do in terms of amount. If a supporting spouse has voluntarily been paying a certain amount for an extended period of time, it may be difficult to convince the court at a later time of an inability to pay that amount, unless there is proof of a substantial change in financial circumstances. By the same token, if the supported spouse accepts a certain amount and is able to live comfortably on the amount provided for an extended period of time, it will be equally difficult to convince the court of a need for a greater amount of support.

back to top

Can I date during separation?

Casual dating will not legally affect the granting of a divorce, the award of custody and support, or the division of property. However, if your dating involves considerable time spent away from the children or staying out overnight or involves a person of significantly bad repute or involves the expenditure of funds, it may become an issue in the divorce case. It is best to consult your attorney before you get involved in any regular or serious dating.

back to top

It looks like divorce. How can I protect myself?

See a lawyer as soon as possible. You don't have to hire one, but you must learn what your rights and obligations are in regard to your spouse and your family. There are many books and pamphlets on divorce and separation but, no book, no pamphlet and no person untrained in the law as it applies in your community can advise you adequately.

back to top

How should I deal with my spouse during the divorce?

Divorce tends to bring out the worst in people. Self-protection requires a new set of guidelines:

  • If love is gone, substitute politeness.
  • Get legal advice from your lawyer, not your friends. Remember, every divorce case is different and what happens in any other case - good or bad - will not necessary happen in your case.
  • Breast your cards. Don't let our spouse know how much you know.
  • Walk away from arguments or conflict.
  • Expect your spouse to resent your lawyer and attempt to undermine your lawyer's influence.
  • Don't enter into private negotiations without your lawyer's permission.
  • Don't make agreements or sign anything without talking to your lawyer.
  • When in doubt, believe your lawyer, not your spouse.
  • Use the lawyers as hired insulators. Learn to say, "Talk to your lawyer and have your lawyer talk to mine."
  • Don't rub in your legal victories. Losers try to even up.

back to top

  

Greene Smith & Associates, P.A.
2555 Ponce de Leon blvd., Suite 230
Coral Gables, Florida 33134

Telephone: 786-268-2553
Telefax: 786-268-2556
info@greenesmithlaw.com



© Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.
Site Map
| Legal Disclaimers
A Paperstreet Web Design