Once upon a time, you and your spouse were happy. You had dreams of ever after, but the magic faded from your relationship years ago. Now you fantasize about life on your own. You’ve thought about it carefully and have decided that divorce is the best choice for you – you just need to tell your spouse.
Bringing up divorce is never easy. It can be especially difficult if you and your spouse haven’t been communicating, or if you have a volatile relationship. How do you get from your dreams of divorce to life on your own?
Before You Talk To Your Spouse
- Get your finances in order. If you aren’t the primary bill payer in your household, get familiar with your family finances. Know your monthly expenses and how much money you have in checking and savings accounts. Look over your past few years of tax returns for information about investments and other assets. Make copies of all financial documents. It is not uncommon for an angry spouse to close accounts or hide assets from the spouse who wants a divorce. Being informed will protect your future finances.
- Educate yourself. Learn about divorce. Meet with a lawyer before talking to your spouse. The attorney will advise you of your legal rights and explain the divorce process and how child custody, support, alimony and property division are handled in your state.
- Think about the conversation. Consider how your spouse will react to your request for a divorce. Will your spouse be hurt? Angry? Surprised? Not take your words seriously? In most cases, a spouse is aware that something is wrong with the marriage. However, some spouses are too oblivious to realize anything is wrong. Consider how you will deal with your spouse’s reaction.
Asking for a Divorce
It’s very easy to get frustrated and yell at your spouse “This is it! I want a divorce.” However, this isn’t an effective way to bring up the topic. Instead, choose a time when you will not be interrupted and the children are not around. Stay calm and be direct and respectful. Talk about your feelings. Avoid any putdowns, accusations or insults.
It can be helpful to bring up the things that you appreciate about your spouse and have enjoyed about your marriage. Follow those observations with an explanation of why your marriage isn’t working. Avoid discussing fault.
Be prepared for a lengthy discussion or a series of discussions. If your spouse has not considered divorce, he may try to talk you out of it or he may get angry. Try not to get defensive. You’ve had more time to think about it. Give your spouse a chance to express his feelings.
Time to Take Action
You’ve brought up divorce and nothing has happened. If things aren’t moving ahead, you will need to ask your spouse to work with you to make the divorce a reality. Create a checklist or timeline. If that doesn’t work, talk to your attorney. You can proceed with the divorce without your spouse’s consent.