When is Divorce 'Imminent'?


When I talk to people about how to get a divorce, I find myself using the phrase when divorce is imminent. Why? Because I am not in the business of advocating for divorce. I am in the business of helping people manage the emotional and psychological aspects of the fact that divorce happens. It is reality to roughly 50% of couples.

Having said that, when divorce IS going to become a reality, or is imminent, I am convinced that it makes a huge difference how two people go about it.

You may wonder, How does anybody know when divorce is imminent anyway? Glad you asked.

Illinois is a no-fault state. Good or bad, this is actually a move away from treating divorcing individuals as criminals. No-fault means that there is no requirement to cite ‘grounds’ for divorce in a petition for marital dissolution. Before the no-fault rule, people had to expose their spouse (and provide proof) for some immoral and illegal action in order to get divorced (abandonment, cruelty, adultery, mental incompetence). Today all states offer some version of no-fault divorce.

Divorce is not a crime. Regardless of how much the right wing religious zealots want you to believe it is. Please revisit my first post as to what divorce is and what it is not.

No-fault divorce means that one spouse has the ability to dissolve the marital ties without a concensus. Only one person in  the marriage has to want the divorce to make it happen.

So, divorce is imminent when a) one of the two partners in a marriage wants a divorce, b) he/she thinks that it is the optimal solution, and  c) he/she has the means and drive to initiate divorce. Means is an acronym for money and resources, and drive is about having the mental and emotional toughness to get it started. A family or support group of friends who are behind you is a resource.

Aside from the fact that maintaining a satisfying intimate relationship is challenging to most people, given the legal context of our culture, it should not come as a surprise to any educated person that marriages are vulnerable to ending in divorce. Just a plain and simple truth. So, if divorce is imminent, is there a way to keep it from destroying our lives, our children, our futures?

Of course. We all know that, when bad things happen to people, there are those who catastrophize and those who find a way to keep things going. Those who throw their hands up in defeat and those who keep fighting for what matters to them. These are the people who rescue  survivors of tragic events.

And I’m here to say that anyone can be that person to his or her family during the crisis of divorce. It is a choice and it is possible.

The first step in that direction may be in understanding when divorce is imminent.


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