The decision to divorce is generally fraught with emotion. It's easy to let those emotions prevent you and your spouse from seeing your problems clearly and determining whether divorce is the best solution. You may be unprepared for what a future without your spouse will bring. On the other hand, you don't want fear (of what others will think of you, being alone or feeling like a failure) to prevent you from making the decision that's best for you and your children.

Often it's wise for couples to seek marriage counseling before making the decision to divorce. Talking to a professional therapist can help ensure that you're communicating clearly and understand what your expectations of each other are. Then you can decide whether you can and should save the marriage.

Are You Ready to Take Care of Yourself?

If you determine that you'd be better off apart than together, it's important to make sure that you're ready for life as a single person or single parent. A big part of that is dealing with the financial changes divorce will bring. It's wise to meet with a financial advisor to determine what you will need for yourself and your children. This can help you plan with your attorney what you will seek.

It's also important to understand what new tasks and challenges you'll be taking on after you separate. Perhaps your spouse did all of the repairs around the home, bill paying, dealing with the kids' school activities or cooking. You'll likely need to pick up some new skills or get a support system to help with these things.

Are You Ready to Be a Good Co-Parent?

If you have children, you and your spouse should work on being good co-parents. This should start with telling the kids about the break-up together. All responsible parents want to minimize the emotional stress and upheaval that a divorce can cause children. When you feel anger at your co-parent getting the better of you, remember that it's the kids' well-being that should be your focus. Many kids actually prefer having divorced parents who can get along amicably to married ones who are always arguing or not speaking.

If you're considering a divorce or separation, even if you haven't made up your mind for certain, you should talk with an experienced family law attorney. He or she can advise you on what documents and financial statements you should get in order, answer your questions and concerns and help you start thinking about what you need and want.