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How to Tell Your Spouse You Want a Divorce


How to Discuss Divorce with Your Spouse

Divorce is a challenging and emotionally charged process. One of the most daunting tasks can be initiating a conversation with your spouse. This article will provide some guidance on how best to navigate this difficult talk.

Should You Tell Your Spouse Before or After Consulting an Attorney?

Many clients wonder when they should discuss divorce with their spouse as it relates to when they speak with an attorney. Whether you ask your spouse for a divorce before or after speaking with legal counsel is entirely up to you, and there are pros and cons to both.

Speaking With an Attorney First

Many people speak with an attorney first for the following reasons:

  • Legal counsel. Speaking with an attorney first provides you with a clear understanding of the legal implications and financial matters related to divorce. This can help you make informed decisions and approach the conversation with your spouse from a position of knowledge.
  • Extended preparation. An attorney can guide you through potential scenarios and reactions from your spouse. They can also help you prepare for questions your spouse may ask, helping you to maintain a calm and collected demeanor during the discussion.
  • Reclaim power. One of the most common reasons individuals feel nervous or intimidated when contemplating divorce is the fear of being misunderstood or unheard. Over time, frustrations can build, leading to a breakdown in communication within the marriage. Consulting with an attorney beforehand can provide a safe space to voice concerns and ensure that your perspective is properly represented.
  • Better protect your interests. By speaking with an attorney, you regain a sense of control and receive objective advice on how to protect your interests during divorce proceedings.

There are cons to speaking with an attorney first, including:

  • Trust issues. If your spouse discovers that you consulted an attorney before discussing the divorce with them, it could lead to feelings of betrayal and deepen existing rifts.
  • Escalation. Seeking legal advice before discussing the matter with your spouse may make the situation seem more adversarial than cooperative, potentially escalating tensions.

Discussing Divorce with Your Spouse First

The pros of having the conversation with your spouse first include:

  • Prioritizing open communication. Discussing your intention for a divorce before consulting an attorney can demonstrate respect and openness, which may set a positive tone for future conversations and negotiations.
  • Making filing for divorce a mutual decision. If both parties agree that divorce is the best course of action, they might decide to seek legal counsel jointly, fostering cooperation and mutual respect.

The cons include:

  • More emotional. Without proper preparation and legal advice, the initial conversation about divorce can become highly emotional and potentially destructive.
  • Unpreparedness. You may find yourself unprepared to answer legal or financial questions that your spouse may ask, which could create additional stress and uncertainty. This unpreparedness may not just be for the conversation with your spouse but also for the divorce process as well.

Initiating the Conversation: Best Practices

Here are some tips concerning how to begin the discussion about wanting a divorce with your spouse:

  • Choose the right time and place. Select a calm, neutral setting to discuss the matter and ensure you both have ample time to process the conversation.
  • Choose your words carefully. To keep the discussion focused and productive, prepare what you want to say in advance. While you shouldn’t have a script, consider preparing your thoughts and outlining your main points. In preparing what you want to say, you can also consider the questions your spouse may have and anticipate their counterarguments. Use "I" statements to express your feelings, such as, "I feel we've grown apart, and I believe it's best for us to separate."
  • Stay calm and respectful. Keep your tone calm and respectful. Avoid blame and focus on your feelings and reasons for wanting a divorce.
  • Be confident and direct. Being confident allows you to assert your needs and desires clearly, ensuring that your message is heard and understood by your spouse. By being direct, you avoid ambiguity and potential misunderstandings, setting the stage for a healthier and more productive divorce process.
  • Prepare for various types of responses. You never know how your spouse may react, so you should prepare yourself for possible upset, shock, anger, and any other number of emotions.
  • Listen actively. Allow your spouse to express their feelings without interruption. Acknowledge their emotions and show empathy.
  • Seek professional help if needed. Consider involving a mediator or counselor in your discussions to help maintain a constructive dialogue.

Considering Divorce? Consult with Our Firm!

Divorce is a life-altering event, filled with emotional turbulence and plenty of uncharted territory. No one should have to navigate these rough waters alone, which is why the attorneys at William Kirby Law, Family Law Attorneys offer personalized, compassionate counsel. Our team empathizes with your situation and is ready to provide you with the guidance and support you need during this challenging time.

Over the years, we've had the privilege of helping numerous clients navigate their divorces successfully. Our dedicated legal team at William Kirby Law, Family Law Attorneys strives to make this journey less strenuous and more manageable. We offer comprehensive services that cover all aspects of divorce proceedings, from property division and child custody arrangements to spousal support and post-judgment modifications.

Our attorneys are always ready to lend an ear, even if you haven't yet disclosed your intentions to your spouse. We believe that early preparation can often lead to smoother transitions, and we're here to help you strategize and plan every step of the way.

Schedule a consultation with a member of our team by calling (215) 515-9901.