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California: To Divorce or Not To Divorce - That Is The Question
(provided by Dana Schutz, MA, LMFT and Irving Zaroff, JD, LMFT)

There are two ways of being rich. One is to have all you want, and the other is to be satisfied with what you have. -Unknown

How do you decide that you are ready for a divorce? Making this decision is one of the most difficult struggles we face in life. Am I making the right choice? Am I choosing for the right reason? Is hope to salvage the marriage truly gone?

Many couples come into divorce lawyers' or divorce mediators' offices "ready" for a divorce. But are they? If you study the histories of marriage and divorce, you come to understand why the divorce rate is so much higher today than long ago. Marriages were based on self-interest: a familial alliance, improved business opportunities, enlarging a family workforce. Sparked by the French and American Revolutions, the concept of "love" being a foundation for marriage became popular. As such, the marital relationship became a central source of life's fulfillment, promising love and the pursuit of happiness. Of course, when the promised rewards did not meet expectations, the underlying basis of the marriage seemed destroyed: thus, motivation for separation and divorce.

From Dr. Phil's five questions in the Dr. Phil's Divorce Readiness Test1, to the eight questions of mediators and collaborative divorce experts, Bruce Derman and Wendy Gregson2, many experts in the field have speculated on the standards to decide if you are ready to divorce

Perhaps the synthesis of the speculation is found in the three considerations identified by Clare Heicklen:3

1. First identify your underlying needs, desires, and wants that are not being met. Can they be met in this relationship by changes I can make?

2. Ask yourself, can you individually or together better solve the marital problems. What are the financial needs for the family? Does financial dependency stress the relationship?

3. Be realistic and do your homework prior to separation. How will financial obligations be met? How will children be attended to? How will the process of divorce be guided?

Deciding to divorce is a declaration that the marriage is dead. It should not be made lightly or without thorough consideration. If so, then the process should be mature and civil.

1 http://www.drphil.com
2 Are you Really Ready for Divorce? The 8 Questions You Need to Ask
3 Are You Ready For Divorce?

Information provided by:
Dana Schutz, MA, LMFT and Irving Zaroff, JD, LMFT

Recommended Resources:
California Divorce Source
California Divorce Laws
California Community Forum
California Divorce Resources

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