Divorce is the usual method for addressing a marriage that seems beyond saving, but it’s important for couples who think it’s time to divorce to weigh this decision carefully. Some couples, unfortunately, rush toward divorce when they feel trapped by their current circumstances. They do not give thought to possible alternatives or often-overlooked remedies that might save their marriages.
In Missouri, the absolute soonest a divorce will be granted is 30 days following the filing of the divorce petition. Every state has some length of waiting period. This time is meant to provide the couple with the opportunity to reconcile if they so wish. Although rare, some couples start divorce proceedings and then ultimately reconcile. In some cases, married couples need to approach the point of no return before they recognize that they want to save their marriage and work things out. Marriage counseling is strongly recommended for any couple who is not 100% convinced that the marriage must end.
If you’re thinking about filing for divorce in St. Louis, it might be worth pausing to reconsider your options. From counseling to a trial separation, divorce may not be the first step. Even if you and your spouse do not have any children together and own minimal shared property, the time you’ve invested in each other may be worth saving. Consult with an experienced St. Louis divorce attorney if you are unsure whether divorce is your only available option.
The Actual Costs of Divorce
If you are set on ending your marriage in St. Louis, you need to carefully evaluate the potential costs of the entire process as well as the costs you’re going to incur once your divorce is finalized. A few of the immediate costs you’re going to face include:
- Attorneys’ fees. You should assume that your spouse will have their own lawyer, and you should plan on hiring one for yourself. Most divorce attorneys bill their services by the hour. The more complex your divorce case is, the longer it will take to resolve, and the more legal fees you will accrue.
- Court filing fees. Filing a divorce petition, an answer, or any other family court filing will incur filing fees. You may also need to file post-judgment motions following the finalization of your divorce if you need to adjust a child support agreement, child custody arrangement, or alimony arrangement. All of these proceedings will incur filing fees of some kind, some more expensive than others.
- New living arrangements. If you and your spouse are splitting up, you’re probably not going to be living together following divorce. If you and your spouse cohabitate, one of you will probably move out before your divorce is finalized. If you happen to be the one who moves out of your marital home, you’re going to have to find a new place to live. This will involve either a down payment on a house or a security deposit on a rental property. In either case, moving to a new home entails substantial initial investment.
Once your divorce is finalized, you’re going to encounter several more:
- New vehicle costs, if you and your spouse shared a vehicle and you need one for yourself following divorce.
- Separate insurance if you shared any insurance coverage with your spouse during your marriage.
- Higher everyday living costs. While you are only going to be supporting yourself, you are still going to face housing and utility costs, food costs, and other living expenses that you and your spouse previously shared.
If you have children, these costs will be even more substantial, but child support may come into play depending on the results of your divorce proceedings. It is not uncommon for people heading for divorce to assume that once the divorce is finalized, they’ll be able to simply start fresh with a new life. They fail to consider the processes of separating joint bank accounts, property division, and countless other details that can arise during divorce proceedings. Meeting with a St. Louis divorce attorney can help you better understand your position prior to initiating divorce proceedings and may help put these initial costs into perspective for you.
Is Divorce the Only Solution?
There are generally two routes to settling a divorce case in Missouri: litigation or mediation. In divorce litigation, the divorcing couple argues over the various details of their divorce in open court under the supervision of a judge. The court will have the final say when it comes to property distribution and custody rights if the couple has children. Litigation can be expensive for both parties, and only divorcing couples who cannot come to terms with any aspect of their divorce will go this route.
The alternative to costly, stressful, and lengthy divorce litigation is mediation. During mediation, a divorcing couple in a contested divorce will gradually negotiate toward an uncontested divorce with mutually agreeable terms under the supervision of a neutral mediator.
Either route will lead to the legal end of your marital contract. Before you commit to either option, think carefully about whether you’re willing to try one last time to make your marriage work.
Potential Remedies That May Help You Avoid Divorce
If you or your spouse has already initiated divorce proceedings, do not consider this the “point of no return” just yet. If there is any lingering hope on either side that the two of you may be able to reconcile, this potential should be fully explored. Before you dive headlong into divorce proceedings, take a moment to reflect and consider some of the ways you and your spouse may be able to work things out:
- Couples’ counseling can be tremendously effective for those who may just need an objective third party to weigh in on issues within their marriage. Counseling could be very revealing and improve communication between the two of you, which could ultimately help you resolve other issues that have been hampering your marriage.
- Spend more alone time together. The stress of work, raising a family, and maintaining a household can be challenging during the best of times for some couples. Making time for just the two of you can be incredibly constructive and may help you rekindle your desire to keep the marriage going.
- Seek professional help with your finances. One of the most common causes of marital breakdowns is money. If you and your spouse have had financial issues that have led to intense arguments, a financial advisor or accountant could provide the help you need to overcome your financial problems and lower your stress levels. Professional financial help can provide a much-needed breath of fresh air in your marriage and teach both of you how to manage your expenses more effectively.
Consider these options and think about how they may help your current. If both you and your spouse are willing to try, this shows that there is at least some hope left of salvaging the relationship. Trying these potential remedies may not only help you save your marriage and avoid a costly divorce, but they may also bring you and your spouse closer together in the long run.
Thoroughly Weigh Your Options Before Committing
While it’s true that divorce is a stressful and expensive process, you should not let the financial toll prevent you from ending your marriage if you genuinely believe it is beyond saving. One of the best things you can do when you are leaning toward filing for divorce, or if you know that your spouse wishes to file for divorce, is to meet with an experienced and reliable St. Louis divorce attorney.
Take advantage of a consultation offer and ask the attorney what to expect in your divorce case. Bear in mind that an attorney cannot provide actual legal counsel until you sign a contract agreeing to the attorney’s legal representation. Ask the attorney about their billing policy and be sure you have a firm understanding of your financial obligations before committing to legal representation.