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How to Tell Your Spouse You Want a Divorce


The idea of talking to your spouse about ending your marriage can be overwhelming. After all, you are ending your marriage and will soon need to think about how assets and debts should be divided and what your financial future may look like. In addition, if you have children, you will also need to think about how your family unit may look after divorce, such as determining parenting time schedules and decision-making responsibilities.

Although the thought of talking to your spouse about your divorce may seem scary, there are various things you should do to better prepare yourself so that you feel comfortable going into the conversation.

1. Meet with an attorney first. Whether you decide you’d like to hire an attorney to represent you in your divorce or not, it’s imperative that you consult with an attorney before speaking to your spouse about divorce. This will help you understand how to go about initiating a divorce, the divorce process, as well as tips and strategies for what to do and what not to do. For example, depending upon the situation and the issues at play, an attorney may advise you that it’s best not to have a conversation with your spouse until after they have been served with divorce papers if it’s best not to put your spouse on notice. As another example, many people are not aware that the law prevents you from transferring assets even before divorce begins if you are considering initiating a divorce action. Every situation is different, and an attorney would advise you about your specific circumstances to make sure that you are well-informed before having a discussion with your spouse.

2. Write down your talking points ahead of time. Oftentimes, when having an emotional and stressful conversation, we can forget all the issues we wanted to address as soon as the other person starts speaking. Write down bullet points that you want to address with your spouse so that you remember to discuss all of them, and you don’t leave things unsaid.

3. Pick the right time and place. It’s important to have the conversation in a comfortable setting, with plenty of time set aside. Unless there are safety concerns, it’s best to have this conversation in a private place, like at home. If you have the conversation in a public setting, your spouse may feel attacked and may not be willing to talk.

It’s also important to consider the timing of the conversation. Think about each of your schedules for the day and be sure that you allow your spouse time to process everything. You don’t want to have a conversation right before an event as that will only create additional tension for both of you. You also want to avoid having the conversation if either party is inebriated, in a vulnerable state, stressed, etc. Don’t bring up the idea of divorce in the heat of an argument either, as that could cause the conversation to quickly escalate with emotions running high.

4. Be certain you want divorce. Once you initiate the divorce conversation, you can’t take it back. If there is any part of you that wants to try to work things out with your spouse, try that first. You want to feel confident in your decision about moving forward with divorce and that you have exhausted any remedies of trying to make your marriage work before having the divorce talk with your spouse.

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