How Do I Tell My Spouse I Want a Divorce?

The decision to end a marriage is a very difficult one and not to be taken lightly. If you have carefully considered ending your marriage and believe it’s the best decision for you, you’re going to have to break the news to your spouse one way or another. This is never easy, but there are some things you should do before having this discussion for it to be as constructive as possible. Consider the following tips for telling your spouse that you want a divorce.

Choose Your Words Carefully

Unless your spouse is unhappy as well, the news that you want a divorce is likely to come as a shock to him or her. It’s important to try and remain as diplomatic and calm as possible rather than hitting your spouse with a sudden and blunt declaration of “I want a divorce.” The manner in which you start this conversation can lay the foundation for the rest of your divorce proceedings. If you come at your spouse with accusations, anger, and resentment, you shouldn’t expect a smooth divorce.

Make Sure It’s What You Really Want

If you have thought about this decision for a long time and truly believe there is no way to salvage the marriage, or if you simply have no desire to remain in the marriage, it’s important to convey this honestly. If you are threatening divorce or considering it as a reaction to a recent dispute with your spouse, consider the possibility that your feelings will change. Suggesting a divorce is not something you can easily take back, so you need to be absolutely certain and honest with yourself about your reasons for wanting the divorce. You may want to explore marriage counseling or some kind of mediation if you and your spouse have serious differences you can’t seem to work through on your own.

Consider the Timing

Try to have the conversation about divorce during a calm time. Suddenly springing the news on your spouse before a family vacation or after the death of a loved one can make an already stressful time even worse. If your spouse is having a tough time at work, wait until things are less stressful before having this difficult conversation. If you and your spouse have children, consider their feelings and what they have going on in their lives as well.

Save Negotiations for Divorce Proceedings

If you start the divorce conversation with your spouse, try to avoid any discussion over the details until you both have legal representation and are ready to officially begin the legal process of divorcing. If you and your spouse agree to certain terms ahead of time, feelings can change once divorce proceedings begin. If one spouse reneges on past promises, this can easily build resentment and cause the divorce case to carry on longer than necessary.

Know How to Handle Resistance

When you want a divorce and your spouse is unaware of your intentions, springing the news on him or her that you want a divorce can lead to strong emotions and resistance. If you are absolutely certain that you want a divorce, then you need to be compassionate and logical during this conversation and convey to your spouse that the two of you are on very different pages.

Get Your Affairs in Order

If a divorce is on the horizon for you, you’ll need to prepare accordingly. This can involve gathering documentation concerning your community property with your spouse and your separate property you brought into the marriage. You may need to hire financial professionals to review your shared and personal assets so you know what to expect from the divorce. If you have children with your spouse, it’s important to bring them into the conversation and let them know the divorce does not affect their parents’ love for them.

An experienced divorce attorney can be a helpful asset in these situations. Your attorney can provide guidance for starting the divorce process and may even be able to refer you to family counselors and therapists who could help your situation. When the time comes to serve your spouse divorce papers, your attorney will help you navigate the legal concerns.