This is a good time to consult with a financial expert, as different states have different laws about property in a divorce.
Building a safety net isn’t as simple as taking money out of your account(s) and hiding it in a suitcase. Common property states maintain that everything acquired during the marriage belongs equally to both spouses. So reach out for guidance to make a financial plan that protects you now without hurting you later.
3. Look for work.
Even if all you do find is a part-time, low-wage job, start the flow of income. If you haven’t been working and have been relying on your spouse’s income while raising kids, or going to school, establishing independence is paramount.
4. Look for a place to live.
Divorce is complicated, even in the best circumstances. But, when you’re dealing with how to escape a miserable marriage, it can get really messy.
You may not be in a situation where you can just go rent or buy a place, especially if assets are tied up. And, if you have children, you have to consider more than just yourself.
This is why that village is so essential. Is there someone in your life who would open their home to you for a while? If securing a place of your own isn’t as simple as apartment shopping and signing a lease, get creative.
Churches, support groups, domestic violence organizations, your social media friends, a realtor friend – these are all good places to start. You never know who knows someone who knows someone….
5. Find a good family law attorney.
If your marriage is really miserable, it has probably been accumulating its toxicity for a long time. And that can make leaving a contentious process. Add children, assets and/or debts to the equation, and it becomes a road you don’t want to travel alone.
Someone who is an expert in family law can help guide you through all the important steps of leaving – finances, children, timing.
6. Stop communication with your partner.
If you have children together, you will obviously have to communicate. But keep your communication to matters involving the kids.
And, as an extra precaution, document all your communication, no matter how innocuous it may seem. When did you talk/text/email/meet? What was said or done?
Keeping a journal dedicated to your divorce could prove to be very helpful if your partner tries to make things hard on you.
If you have no choice but to be in the same house, strive to create separation as much as possible. You don’t want to be drawn into arguments, crazy-making, or efforts to change your mind. (That’s why you’re in this position in the first place, right?)
7. Seek professional help.
This is really an extension of building your village. It is so important that you don’t attempt to go through this process alone. While you’re multitasking with all the unfamiliar, painful, moving parts of divorce, your emotions will be taking a silent beating.
Whether you seek out a therapist, a life/divorce coach, a support group, a pro-bono legal advisor, or all of the above, you need them. You need their empathy, their knowledge, their resources, their clarity, and their strength.
This is one of the most important gifts you can give yourself as you navigate one of the most difficult decisions you will ever make.
There are really only three solutions to living in a miserable marriage. You continue simply surviving in an unhappy marriage; you learn how to fix an unhealthy marriage, or you leave.
if you’ve tried everything you can to make things work, but you’re losing your spirit and sense of self, you probably already know the answer.
Written by: Dr Karen Finn Originally appeared on drkarenfinn.com and is republished here with permission. Dr Karen Finn is a divorce life coach. She helps her clients navigate the challenges of divorce – from the moment it enters their mind as a possible solution for the discontent they feel in their marriage (it’s not always the best answer), through the turmoil of divorce to creating a fulfilling life post-divorce. To learn more about Karen and how you can work with her, visit her website.