Question: I just found out my wife wants a divorce after almost 5 years of marriage and nearly 10 years together. We have a 2 1/2 year old son. She claims she started falling out of love me since the day before she found out she was pregnant. I saw no signs of unhappiness in this marriage and this is a shock to not only me but to my parents, her parents, and all of our friends. She has told me that she wants nothing from me, no child support, she wants 50/50 custody, and that she will give me what I have invested in the house and property we own.
She states that she just “wants me to let her go.” I am curious about what I should do. This is such a shock to me and now I have to find a way to start my life over at 35 years old with no plan in place. What do I need to do to go about this in the most effective way? I’m sure you hear this story fairly often, do you have any advice for what I should watch out for?
Answer: Unless you wish to pursue counseling and reconciliation, which it appears your wife will not wish to pursue, you should proceed immediately to have an experienced family law attorney promptly prepare the necessary court documents for your wife to execute to obtain a divorce on terms which are acceptable to you. Clients who wait for the wife to get papers prepared because she is the one that wants out often end up waiting for months and then being presented with unacceptable provisions.
As it appears your wife has called it quits on the marriage, further debate or efforts may not change her decision and only delay the inevitable. During any delay, her circumstances may change, she may become involved with someone else, and your debts and assets continue to accrue, which factors may only further complicate a divorce later. Absent unusual financial circumstance, a divorce may be processed in a matter of weeks, or even days.
An experienced family law firm realizes that time may be critical in such cases and your attorney should commit to provide you the necessary documents within a reasonable time. An attorney who handles divorce agreements as a primary practice will advise you of the issues and concerns in any settlement as to the house, taxes, custody, visitation, and support. While the property division is usually a one-time decision, the child custody, visitation, and support are subject to reviews as provided by the laws of your state, such that any concession she may make now on custody, visitation, and support may be changed later as the best interests of your son require. However, do not be surprised if once the proposal is presented to her on paper to sign she changes her mind as to what she wants out of the divorce.
Richard Coffee is a Litigation Manager in the Belleville Illinois office of Cordell & Cordell. He is an experienced divorce attorney whose practice is devoted to domestic litigation. He is licensed in the State of Illinois and is admitted to practice law in the U.S. District Courts for Northern, Central and Southern Illinois.
Mr. Coffee has extensive domestic litigation trial experience representing clients in courts throughout Illinois on all aspects of domestic litigation, including the representation of clients who are current or retired military personnel with issues under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, clients involved in state court jurisdictional disputes due to the relocation of one or both parties from or to Illinois, and clients with government or private pension benefit valuation and division issues.