How to Tell Your Spouse You Want a Divorce

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If your marriage is no longer happy and you have tried to do what you can to make it better, you may decide it is time to separate and file for divorce. This can be a very hard decision, especially if you and your spouse have children.

Telling your partner that you want to end your marriage can be a very emotional and difficult conversation. However, approaching this discussion the right way may help you have a more amicable divorce rather than one where you fight about everything in court. Here are some tips on the best way to tell your spouse that your relationship is over.


Be Certain You Want a Divorce


Before you tell your partner that you want to split up, you should be certain that you want a divorce. Think about what is wrong with your marriage and if it can be fixed. You may want to discuss your concerns with a counselor or your clergy.

If you’re unsure about whether your marriage can be saved, have a general discussion with your spouse about how they feel about your relationship and the problems you see. You may be surprised to discover that they agree the relationship could be better and may be willing to go into marriage counseling to fix it.


How to Tell Your Spouse You Want a Divorce


If you have made the decision to file for divorce, you should make plans to protect your interests before you discuss it with your partner. This can include making a list of all the assets acquired during the marriage, separate property you each own, and your debts. You may also want to retain an experienced divorce lawyer, so you understand your legal options.

Your next step is to prepare for your conversation with your spouse. Here is what you need to do to make the discussion go as smoothly as possible.


Prepare What You Will Say


You should write down your thoughts about what you want to tell your spouse. This will help you explain them in a less hurtful way that will facilitate a frank, amicable conversation about splitting up.


Pick the Right Time and Place: It is important to pick a good time and location to have this discussion. Here are some tips on doing this:

  • You should select a quiet place and a time when you can talk without being interrupted.


  • If your spouse has been violent in the past or you are fearful of how they will respond, you may want to schedule your talk at a public location. You should also decide whether it will be safe to return home if you are afraid that your partner will physically or emotionally abuse you.


  • You should not have a discussion about divorce during an especially stressful time in either of your lives such as when you are dealing with a serious illness of a close family member or are having a crisis at work. It will be harder to have positive interaction about your marriage at that time.


Be Honest


You need to be honest with your spouse about why you want to divorce. Preparing your script can help you keep the reasons brief and clear. Avoid getting angry, blaming your spouse for your marriage’s failure, or rehashing old arguments.


Let Your Spouse Express Their Feelings


Even though you may have been thinking about getting a divorce for months, your spouse may not be ready for this. They may not even realize how serious the problems are in your relationship.

Anticipate an emotional and maybe angry response from your partner. Do not respond by becoming defensive or arguing with them. Let them know in a compassionate way that you understand their feelings, but make it clear that you are firm in your decision.


Do Not Discuss Major Issues


When having this first conversation, it is best not to discuss the details of getting divorced. Now is not the time to inform your spouse that you already retained an attorney or to discuss important issues that will need to be resolved.

Wait at least a few days to allow your spouse time to process your decision. Then schedule another meeting to discuss when you will separate, how to split the property and debts, and how you will work out custody and child support payments.


Decide How to Tell Your Children


If you have children, you and your spouse should decide how and when to tell them about the divorce. If at all possible, you want to be a team when telling them and work together to help your children adjust to their new situation. A divorce can be traumatic for them, too. Reassure them that they will still have a loving, supportive relationship with both of you.


Contact Quest Law


Are you considering filing for divorce in Chesterfield County? Call my Midlothian office to schedule your free initial conversation to discuss your options and how my staff and I will be there for you every step of the way during your divorce proceedings.


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