In my 19 years of practice in family law, I have had many people come into my office asking if they should get divorced. I tell them quite simply that it is a decision that they need to make. While I may have an opinion based on what they tell me, it is not for me to tell them that they need to divorce(or should stay together).
Divorce is a very personal process. The only two people who should determine that it may be time to consider divorce are the two people in the marriage. They each know how they feel, what the marriage is like, and what they want their life to look like. Someone outside of their relationship does not have that unique perspective.
When a client asks me the question as to what they should do, I ask them “what do you want to do?” I also ask them what they think their spouse wants to do. New Jersey is a no-fault state. If their spouse wants a divorce, even if they do not, they are going to be divorced.
I will go further, like asking my client:
“What do you want your life to look like in a year? 5 years? 10 years?”
“Do you picture yourself still with your spouse? If so, what do you think it will look like? Are you happy?”
“How are your children doing? Do you think they are being impacted by your relationship with your spouse? Are they happy?”
“Why are you here?”
The answer to the last question is often that they came to see me because they want a divorce. It is just hard to say it out loud. It is tough to acknowledge the marriage is over. And that is OK.
Sometimes the answer is that there is a challenge in the marriage, but they don’t want it to lead to divorce. In those cases, I see how they can get back on track. I refer them to a counselor or therapist. I suggest they reach out to their pastor/rabbi/priest for guidance. I may even just suggest they speak with their spouse openly and honestly. Communication is the key. If couples cannot talk to one another, this impasse may not be resolvable, and the relationship may be headed toward the end.
The decision to divorce is just the first step. It is also the most important and hardest step to make.