It is not uncommon for one spouse to be surprised, blindsided even, by the divorce filing of their spouse. Often, though, the surprised spouse can look back in hindsight and see the signs. Here are some:
- A new vocabulary. If your spouse starts saying words like “custody” or “community property,” “date of separation” or “dissolution” even (and these terms may not be in the context of your marriage, but may be dropped in conversation about someone else, for example), then this may be a sign s/he is talking to a divorce attorney, or at least gathering information.
- Shifting of accounts or money. If your spouse suddenly wants to move money around, it may be a sign of impending division.
- Changes in his or her relationship with family members. If your spouse has been estranged from her mother during the marriage and now they’re tight, it may be because the rift was due to the marriage. Now that it’s ending, the rift is healed…you just don’t know it yet.
- Super Parent, or changes in parenting. A spouse getting a divorce may suddenly become super-parent, trying to establish a pattern of caring for children when that wasn’t necessarily the case before. Your spouse may be setting the stage for the impending custody battle.
- Sudden reduction in work hours, overtime, or business. Many spouses, in the face of paying child or spousal support, find themselves with less work, business, or overtime, and sometimes bosses are complicit with this temporary reduction to avoid higher support amounts.
- Secret conversations. Catching your spouse spending money or talking to someone on the sly may not mean an affair – it may be an attorney or s/he may be talking to others about you.
Divorce is difficult in the best of circumstances. If you keep your eyes and ears open, though, you may be able to avoid being taken by surprise.