It is not easy to hear the words "I want a divorce" from your wife after years of marriage. Your next moves should be thought out well. Rather than acting destructively, you should communicate with your wife to find out why she wants a divorce. If the underlying problems cannot be solved through communication or counseling, seek a reputable divorce attorney to represent your best interests during the divorce proceedings.
When your wife tells you she wants to dissolve the marriage, remain calm and give yourself ample time to consider the implications of divorce. Do not become angry or violent in response to her request, as property damage or a violent outburst can hurt your case during the divorce proceedings. Such actions will be taken into consideration by the court when deciding custodial rights or the division of assets. Take a few days to calmly think about your wife's decision before taking action or saying something you might regret later.
Communicating and Seeking Out Counseling
After your wife tells you she wants a divorce, let her explain the reasoning behind the decision. Hearing the explanation behind her choice will help you understand if there were problems in the marriage you were unaware of. If you feel the reasons for your wife's decision can be worked on and resolved, suggest marriage counseling to work on the existing relationship issues. While you cannot force your wife to agree to counseling, it can provide a healthy outlet for you and your partner to discuss issues and work on your marriage. Even if you or your wife decides not to work to save your marriage, a counselor can help facilitate an amicable split.
If marriage counseling is not an option, consult with a therapist for your own mental and emotional health. The dissolution of a marriage is often stressful and can take a large emotional toll. A counselor or therapist can help you cope during this difficult time.
Finding Legal Counsel
Consult with a reputable lawyer in your area who specializes in divorce law. Most lawyers will charge a consultation fee to assess your situation and answer questions during the initial meeting. You may also need to pay your attorney a retainer, which is an upfront deposit for the lawyer's services. Your lawyer's actual fee to work on your case will be deducted from the retainer, and you may need to pay an additional sum if the lawyer's fee exceeds the retainer. Keep in mind that the cost of a divorce attorney is generally worth it, given the attorney's knowledge, connections and experience. If your wife is planning on hiring counsel, you should also seek legal representation. Even if the divorce is mutually agreed upon, legal counsel will ensure you are given all your rights during the divorce proceedings.
You and your wife's shared assets, property and debt will need to be divided during the divorce proceedings. If you have children younger than age 18, custody arrangements will also need to be organized. Determine which assets you feel entitled to receiving from the divorce. Also, you will need to determine if you want sole or joint custody of your children. Your lawyer can help you determine what parental rights you are entitled to, as well as the assets you should receive from the divorce.
Since joint debt will also be divided, protect yourself by contacting your credit card companies to place holds on any joint accounts. You may be held partially liable if your wife racks up a large credit card bill before the divorce is finalized. You can ask the credit card company if you can remove your name from the account and place half of the remaining balance into a separate account under your name.