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A Better Partnership


Jan 2012
January 04, 2012

When is the Right Time to End a Marriage?

Family law attorney Richard A. Roane knows that post-holidays are the most popular time to file for divorce.

Roane, who chairs the Family Law Practice Group at Warner Norcross & Judd LLP, has a steady stream of husbands and wives in his office after the holidays end who are finally ready to explore the possibility of divorce. He notes that most have tried to “hang on” through the holidays, but find themselves facing an acute crisis – or simply unable to hang on any longer.

“In my 24 years of practice, I have never had a client who wakes up and thinks, ‘OK, today is a good day to get divorced,” Roane said. “About two-thirds of the husbands and wives who come to see me have given divorce a great deal of thought and are absolutely ready to file. The holidays have pushed them beyond the brink. The other third are still exploring options and trying to learn more about what to expect during divorce proceedings.”

Marriages, he notes, reach breaking points often caused by one of five issues:
  • Substance abuse, whether it is alcohol or drug abuse
  • Financial mismanagement, often through gambling problems or run-away spending
  • Domestic violence, either against the spouse or the children
  • Extra-marital affairs
  • Falling out of love over the course of time, drifting apart and failing to communicate

The challenging economy has exacerbated some of these decisions, Roane noted. He has seen the bad economy force couples – who can’t afford to separate their households – stay together when they don’t want to, while others have been driven apart. The two main assets in any marriage – home equity and retirement plans – have been decimated by the current market.

“When is the right time to end the marriage?” Roane hears that question fairly often, but knows that the answer is as individualized as the couples who seek out his advice. “The right time is different for each and everyone. For some, the first time to end the marriage is when he hits you. For others, they might put up with that for years before reaching the breaking point.

“When a couple has tried really hard and approached repairing their marriage sensibly, either through counseling, working with a minister or spiritual advisor, talking with their spouse – when all of that fails, then it may be time.
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About Warner Norcross & Judd

Warner Norcross & Judd is a corporate law firm with 220 attorneys practicing in six offices throughout Michigan: Grand Rapids, Holland, Lansing, Muskegon, Southfield and Sterling Heights. By providing discerning and proactive legal advice, Warner Norcross & Judd forges a better partnership with its clients.

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