If your marriage is struggling, you may see divorce on the horizon. However, sometimes, a spouse is blindsided by the request, left picking up the pieces and figuring out what to do next.
When your spouse declares that he/she wants a divorce, it will set in motion various financial, practical, and emotional changes for everyone involved. While the situation may be challenging, it is essential to consider how to respond and what steps to take. This will ensure you protect yourself and your children and maintain the type of relationship you choose with your soon-to-be ex-spouse.
At Brodsky Renehan Pearlstein & Bouquet, our experienced divorce attorneys understand the divorce process and how to help you reach the best possible outcome for your situation. We will review your case and provide advice and guidance as you navigate the divorce process in Maryland.
We also recommend preparing yourself for the legal process, the emotions you will likely experience, and for the future. Here are some tips to help you through the days and weeks after your spouse requests a divorce.
1. Stay Calm and Listen
When you receive the news your spouse wants a divorce, it may be difficult to respond calmly and rationally. It is not unusual to have questions about the situation and why he/she has sprung this on you now.
However, this isn’t the best time to expect these answers. The best option is to focus on what you will do next.
For example, is your spouse determined to file for divorce? Would he/she consider anything, like therapy, to save your marriage? Has he/she spoken to an attorney? Did he/she already file for divorce?
You may think that your spouse decided suddenly to file for divorce. However, this is typically not the case. In fact, studies have shown it takes as much as two years to go from just thinking about a divorce to acting on it.
Remember, he/she has have had plenty of time to think about the decision, you haven’t. Stay calm and take steps to move forward without acting out of anger or emotions.
2. Request Time Before Making Decisions
Now that you know your spouse wants a divorce, he/she may want to get the process rolling. If you had no idea this was coming, it could be overwhelming. Don’t agree to anything right now. The news may have left you confused and unsure of what to do. This means you may not be able to make informed or logical decisions.
Your spouse has had plenty of time to think about this decision. You have not. Even if your spouse is not happy about you requesting time, it is only fair. Make sure to hold your ground when requesting this time.
3. Build Your Support System
Divorce is hard, even if you agree it is the best option. It is smart to seek comfort and support from your family and friends. However, don’t turn to social media.
This may wind up having a negative impact on your divorce. Even if you delete a post of you venting about your spouse, it never truly disappears, and someone may have taken a screenshot. It is best to avoid posting anything about your divorce on social media and focus on getting support from people in your life.
4. Learn About the Divorce Process in Maryland
Part of planning for divorce is to learn about the process. If you are getting a divorce, you are filing for an absolute divorce. In October 2023, Maryland changed its divorce law, eliminating fault-based grounds and the separation period of 12 months.
According to the new law, you may file for divorce after being separated for six months or by claiming “irreconcilable differences.” The new law also eliminated the separation requirement of 12 months (mentioned above) and instead requires couples to have “pursued separate lives for at least 6 months.” It does not require you to live in separate residences.
You may wonder what this means for your divorce. The first important thing to understand is that the fault-based grounds for divorce, including adultery, desertion, insanity, excessively vicious conduct, cruelty of treatment, and convictions of a crime, are no longer available. The court still considers both individual’s actions when determining things like alimony, division of property, and child custody.
5. Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney
Divorce can be complex. The law has recently changed, and knowing your legal rights and options can be challenging. It is wise to contact an experienced divorce attorney who can help you with the process.
If your spouse has already filed for a divorce, you have limited time to respond to the petition. These time limits include:
- Spouses served in Maryland have 30 days.
- Spouses served in another state have 60 days.
- Spouses served in another country have 90 days.
Your attorney will ensure you meet the deadlines and guide you through the process. Finding an experienced attorney means you have someone who understands the process and everything. This can help alleviate some of the stress created by this situation.
Divorce Support and Guidance from Brodsky Renehan Pearlstein & Bouquet
Your spouse may have surprised you by requesting a divorce. However, this doesn’t mean that you cannot know what to expect and receive the best outcome possible.
Our divorce attorneys can provide the advice and guidance needed to help you through this challenging time. Contact our office to request a consultation.