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How to Tell Your Spouse You Want a Divorce

Deciding to get a divorce is one of the most difficult and painful decisions you will ever have to make.  Once you have made up your mind that you want a divorce, telling your spouse that you want a divorce may also be extremely difficult.  Individuals are often nervous about how to tell their spouse and what they should do prior to telling their spouse that they want a divorce.  All of these issues are heightened if you have children. 

It is natural and prudent to have concerns about how your spouse will react to your saying you want a divorce.  You may, for example, have concerns about what will happen to your savings and bank accounts, whether you and your spouse will continue to live together, or how you will support yourself. In extreme situations, you may be afraid that your spouse will become upset and physically threatening.  At The Law Offices of George M. Sanders, we’re here to guide you through the entire divorce process, including how to prepare for telling your spouse that you want a divorce and how to communicate your decision to your spouse.

What You Should Do Prior to Telling Your Spouse You Want a Divorce 

Once you have decided that you want to get a divorce, having a plan in place prior to telling your spouse about your decision is important.  You should have a plan concerning your bank accounts and any savings accounts.  You also need to figure out what to do with important financial records, such as tax returns, bank statements, investment and retirement account statements, income records, and credit card statements.  If you own special types of property such as family heirlooms and valuable collections, having a plan to protect these assets is important.

Even if you do not believe that your spouse would loot bank accounts or investment accounts, or destroy financial records, you should still have some proposals you can give your spouse concerning these issues.  You and your spouse reaching some tentative agreements on these issues is important and can save you a lot of headaches and money later in the process.

How Should I Break the News to My Spouse?

Telling your spouse you want a divorce is a difficult process.  When to have the discussion, where the discussion will take place and how to initiate a conversation about getting divorced are all questions you may grapple with. How you resolve these questions will depend on the unique circumstances of each couple. Here are some tips that may be helpful when telling your spouse you want a divorce:

1) Choose an Appropriate Time and Place

Unless you are concerned about physical violence by your spouse, having a face-to-face discussion is typically a good option.  It is important to choose a time when the two of you can speak in private and have enough time to discuss the issues you have worked out in your plan. Breaking the news in a public place where other people can overhear your discussion may make a discussion on important issues impossible. It may make your spouse feel embarrassed or resentful about how you went about discussing your plans for a divorce. 

If you have concerns about your safety, you will need to consider a number of different alternatives.  Under these conditions, even having the discussion in a public place may not make sense.  These issues are extremely sensitive and you should discuss them with an attorney.

2) Avoid Placing the Blame

It is important to approach the conversation calmly and with a clear mind in order to minimize potential conflict.  Telling your spouse you want a divorce is not going to be easy on you or your spouse.  If you want any hope of discussing the issues you want to cover, you will have to avoid placing blame for the divorce or going over the reasons you want a divorce.  Having a strategy on how to conduct the discussion is critical.

This does not mean that your spouse will want to talk to you right away.  If that happens, it is important not to push the issue too hard.  There is almost always going to be time to have a discussion, once the shock of the news settles.  Your spouse may want to talk to an attorney, and it is important not to make your spouse feel that you are pressuring him or her into making hasty decisions.  If your spouse does not want to talk immediately, typically you can ask when he or she will feel comfortable doing so.

3) Prepare the Message You Want To Communicate

A free-floating discussion in this setting is usually not going to result in a productive conversation.  Having a list of topics you want to discuss and a position on each of those topics is necessary.  You are probably not going to resolve the issues in your divorce in that first discussion, but you may be able to resolve a number of important questions, if you can remain focused.  Preparation is critical to maintaining focus. 

It is important to have a clear picture of the message you want to communicate before approaching the conversation. Emotions are likely to run high, so it is beneficial to contemplate your message in advance. This will help you communicate clearly and avoid saying anything you may regret or that will lead to further conflict. Be sure to carefully think about what you would like to say and consider practicing it before you speak to your spouse.

4) Give Your Spouse Time to Process

In some cases, both parties know that a divorce is going to happen, and the conversation about a divorce is not going to come as a shock.  This does not mean that the conversation will be easy.  Keeping the discussion focused on a few issues is important. 

In other cases, asking for a divorce may come as a shock to your spouse and they may not be emotionally ready to talk.  In these cases, even having a limited discussion on a few topics may not be possible right away. 

Contact Our Team Today

The divorce process can be complex and overwhelming, but you do not have to navigate it alone. If you have questions regarding what this process contains, the challenges you may face or how to initiate divorce proceedings, contact our team today. We are here to help you every step of the way.

Contact Our Illinois Divorce & Custody Law Firm Today

You will find our attorneys to be flexible, responsive, and ready to begin providing exceptional representation to protect your rights and your best interests immediately. Call our law office now at 312-624-7645 to schedule a consultation about your family law needs at no initial charge.

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