Dr. Phil: Are You Ready for Divorce?

July 9, 2010

About 20% of people that contact a lawyer about a divorce are not “ready” to actually get a divorce, according to a statistic cited by Dr. Phil on his show.  Dr. Phil believes that most people are too quick to get divorced.

The best divorce lawyers routinely advise their clients that they should explore every option for keeping their marriage together before going the divorce route. Dr. Phil agrees. He says before you get a divorce, you should make sure your emotional business is finished, you are prepared legally, and you are ready to move to a co-parenting relationship with your spouse (instead of the married dynamics you have been in).

Dr. Phil has a Divorce Readiness Test:

  1. Have you done everything you can to save your marriage?
  2. Do you have unfinished emotional business?
  3. Have you researched, planned, and prepared yourself legally for divorce?
  4. Are you ready to adopt a new standard of conduct with your children?
  5. Are you will to create a new relationship as a co-parent?

To make sure you are ready for divorce, Dr. Phil suggests reading books about repairing your marriage, going to a marriage counselor, speaking with a clergy person or spiritual advisor, and spending time focusing on what each person’s role is in the marital break-up. Evaluate: How did the marriage go wrong? Is what fight is about worth ruining the marriage? Are you willing to put in the effort to make the relationship work? What is your role in causing the break-up?

As a family law attorney, I wish that all my clients passed Dr. Phil’s Divorce Readiness Test.  However, in my experience, very often the process of starting and working through a divorce makes clients confront the end of their relationship and the associated emotional baggage.  While in an ideal world, all individuals would start the divorce process only after they are able to pass the “test”, realistically most people go through divorce and moving through the ‘tests’ steps at the same time.

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