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Reasons Not to Put Your Divorce Off

The following information is not meant to be legal advice. It offers alternatives, tips and resources for those with no means to hire an attorney.

Time and time again, we encounter people who want to move forward with a divorce, but for any number of reasons, procrastinate. That’s understandable. Sometimes clients dread telling friends, family, and co-workers that the marriage is over because they feel embarrassed or ashamed. Many people fear their childrens’ reactions, or what the neighbors might say. While these emotions are natural, the truth is that in many cases, it is best for you and for your case not to procrastinate. Here are just a few reasons not to put off your divorce:

  1. If there have been incidents of harassment or domestic violence in the marriage, initiating the dissolution process provides protection and a simplified process for obtaining restraining orders, protection for the children, property, other family members, etc. If you are experiencing domestic violence, harassment or abuse at the hands of your spouse, please protect yourself (and your children) by filing for Dissolution of Marriage, and for Domestic Violence Restraining Orders, right away.
  2. Filing for Dissolution of Marriage causes “Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders” (“ATROs”) to go into effect. These Restraining Orders prevent either party from selling, transferring, liquidating, or otherwise altering any asset acquired during the marriage without the agreement of their spouse, or a court order. These ATROS can help a party whose spouse tries, for example, to move money from a joint account to a new account in his or her name, or who would try to sell a house or car without the other spouse knowing.
  3. A “long term marriage” in the State of California, is a marriage of 10 years or longer. This matters because spousal support (i.e. “alimony”) is an issue in your case, if the marriage is 10 years or longer, the spouse to receive spousal support is presumptively entitled to support for the rest of his or her life. However, with marriages of less than 10 years, spousal support is typically payable for a period of time equal to one-half of the duration of the marriage. So, if the parties were married for 8 years, a supported spouse will typically receive such support for about 4 years. The date upon which you file for divorce is not necessarily the same as your date of separation, and it is best to contact an attorney to discuss, as the date of separation is different in every case. However, if your marriage is on the cusp of being a long-term marriage, the date of separation can become extremely important. If you are concerned about paying spousal support, you ought not delay.
  4. A toxic marriage has negative effects on children. Many couples try to stay together “for the children”. However, if the children are always seeing you and your spouse fight, always dealing with tension, and feel caught in the middle of your issues with your spouse, that is not in the best interest of the children. No one enjoys being around people who cannot get along, and this can be particularly true of children. It is probably best that you end the fighting, so that the children can come home to a peaceful, loving home, not one where everyone is walking on eggshells. Hopefully that peace can be obtained through counseling and reconciliation. However, when that is not possible, or where one spouse does not wish to reconcile, moving forward with the divorce process as smoothly and amicably as possible can neutralize the tension in your home and allow everyone to move forward with their lives.

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