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How to Know When It’s Time to File for Divorce

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Divorce attorney Janet McCullar answers your questions.

By Janet McCullar, Sponsored Content

January is a busy month for divorce lawyers, who often see people who don’t want to spend another holiday with their spouse. Whether or when to file for divorce is an extremely personal choice, but here are some frequently asked questions that might help you with your decision.

How will I know it is time to file for divorce?

Most people agonize about or contemplate divorce for years before they actually file for divorce. There are many aspects to consider: impact on children, relationships with family and financial security. If you’ve been contemplating divorce, gathering information by meeting with a lawyer can help you to process your decision. Trust yourself too. Give yourself all the time you need to make the decision. You will know when it is time.

Are there times when a person must file for divorce?

Rarely. However, there are times when it may be strongly recommended or even urgent. Have you discovered your spouse has cut you off financially? Has your spouse made a threat to take your children? Have you been injured by your spouse or been scared by a threat to harm you physically or financially? If you are worried or scared for any reason, see a divorce lawyer.

What if I am scared physically or financially?

If you are being abused, leave right away. If you can, make a safe departure without saying you are leaving. Keep a set of keys and some cash in a safe place that you can easily access if you have to leave immediately. If you have children, it’s OK to take them with you; it doesn’t mean you will lose your home or your children. If you are worried about safety or finances, talking to a lawyer can help. Don’t worry if you don’t know about your finances. A divorce lawyer will help get you the information you need.

Can I get a legal separation?

In some states, there is a process for legal separation, but that is not the case for Texas. Part of the divorce process is figuring out who is going to live where, how finances will be handled and visitation with children. Filing for divorce doesn’t always mean divorce. Sometimes people file for divorce and later reconcile.

I’ve been given divorce papers. What do I do?

The papers may look overwhelming to you and may make you feel angry or hurt. They may be hard to understand. They may look bad and worry you. Most divorce papers have a lot of dos and don’ts. But most divorce papers just contain a lot of legalese. If you’ve been given divorce papers, see a divorce lawyer right away.

Most of all, if you are worried about whether to stay or go, stop torturing yourself. Go see a divorce lawyer. Gather information. Learn about your rights. Don’t take divorce advice from friends, family or your spouse; they are almost always wrong. Talk to a divorce lawyer instead.


Janet McCullar is a nationally respected trial attorney known for her skill and success in the courtroom. She has represented clients in hundreds of complex divorce and custody cases. Although she represents clients during trying times, her cases are routinely resolved amicably to save the client the time, cost and pain involved in litigation. McCullar is board-certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She was also selected as a fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, an organization that consists of the nation’s top divorce attorneys. jmccullarlaw.com

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