A close friend of mine has been contemplating a divorce for almost as long as I have known her. She and her husband have two beautiful, smart and talented children. They are financially secure, live in a large home in an upper class neighborhood, have a lot of friends and, to the outside world, appear to "have it all". However, more often than not, our recent conversations turn to whether or not she should stay in her marriage. Her husband is not a bad guy. In fact, he is one of the kindest, outgoing and funniest men I know. They don't fight much and no one has had an affair, it's just that they simply co-exist. Although he hasn't expressed the sentiment directly to her, it's clear that he doesn't love her. In fact, maybe he never did. At only age 45, she finds herself wondering if she can stay with him "for financial reasons" because it's the right thing to do, or for the sake of the children.
During one recent conversation, I asked her to give me three reasons that she thought it made sense for her to stay. First, she explained that she was afraid it would crush her children and that she wanted to "stick it out" until they left for college. Next, she talked about financial security. She hasn't worked since she had her first child, almost 20 years ago, and is scared to give up her comfortable lifestyle. Finally, she explained that she wasn't sure the "grass was greener" on the other side of divorce.
As a family law attorney, many of my clients come to my office with similar concerns. Unfortunately, there is no right answer. During an initial meeting I will spend a significant amount of time guiding these clients through the divorce process and explaining how to best protect their interests while trying to reach an ultimate decision. However, only the client can decide when, or if, the time will ever be right to leave the marriage.
I finally encouraged my friend to come into my office and meet with one of my colleagues. I want her to understand the complexities of the divorce process and all that a decision to leave her husband might entail. If that is the path she chooses to take someday, I want to make sure that she is well-informed and can make an educated decision. As a friend - and divorce attorney - this is what I can do to support her. As for her decision to stay or go, ultimately, only she can make that choice.