Signs That Your Spouse Is Planning to File for Divorce

If your spouse suddenly moves out of the home, talks about needing to take some extended trips, or needs time apart to think, these could also be signs that your spouse is planning to file for divorce.

Spouse filing for divorce: Image of young upset female alone with her husband

Your Spouse Is Secretly Planning to File for Divorce

Finding a divorce attorney's business card is a huge sign that tells you that your spouse is planning to file for divorce. If your spouse suddenly moves out of the home, talks about needing to take some extended trips, or needs time apart to think, these could also be signs that your spouse is planning to file for divorce. If a spouse tells you that the marriage is over or that they want a divorce, believe them. Sometimes things are said in the heat of the moment, but there might be an element of truth, so it is better to be prepared.

Your Spouse Is Secretly Opening up Different Financial Accounts

Look at whether your spouse is opening up separate financial accounts or credit cards, and whether they start going to the gym more, change the way they dress, no longer share about their day with you, or block you from knowing details about their life. Sometimes a spouse will spend more time getting ready for work and have excuses for why they are not around the house. These excuses might not add up, and you constantly feel they are not being entirely honest with you. You may also notice new credit card or bank account statements coming in the mail from financial institutions you do not recognize.

There Is a Change in Communication

If there is a change in communication and your spouse has become more secretive, the marriage may end. For instance, if your spouse starts lying more, or they are not where they say they are going to be, this behavior could mean that they are having an affair or hiding a substance abuse issue. However, if that is the case, they may not intend to leave the marriage over it, and you have a choice to either accept this behavior or move on with your life. In cases where there has been a lot of fighting, you may be relieved that your spouse is no longer fighting with you and take it as a good sign. While that might be the case, it could mean that your spouse has withdrawn emotionally from the marriage and is moving towards divorce. If you recognize the early signs, there may still be an opportunity to save the marriage with honesty and hard work. In the meantime, you can take cautious steps to protect yourself if the marriage is truly over.

Is There Any Benefit to Filing for Divorce Before Your Spouse?

While the impact of who files first does not matter with how a case is handled in court, there may be other benefits to filing first. No one likes the impending doom of waiting for bad news and wondering what their next reality will look like. If you are waiting for news that your spouse has filed for divorce or to be served with divorce papers before moving on to the next steps in your life, then it may be best to be the one who files first.

Possible Sense of Freedom

You can’t control the timing or outcome of a divorce,  but you can control when it is filed. This may give you a sense of freedom, even if you are not the spouse who wanted the divorce in the first place. Filing first can also enable you to recognize that you have taken the first steps toward the next part of your life and an opportunity for healing. If one of you has already moved out and you reside in a different county or state than your spouse, you may wish to initiate the divorce so that your residence controls the jurisdiction of where the divorce gets filed. To have jurisdiction over a family case in California, the party must have lived in the state for at least six months and in the county for at least three months before that action is filed.
This article has been edited and excerpted from How To File And Survive A Divorce In California: Information That Can Help You Navigate The Process in California (Speakeasy Marketing, 2020) by Patricia C. Van Haren. This book is for anyone who is contemplating divorce or in the divorce process; it offers legal information, guidance, and assistance to readers so that they can get through the divorce process relatively unscathed.

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