This is a very common question that I get asked on a regular basis by my clients. It is very pertinent especially at this time too with families together locked in isolation for weeks on end. The stress and anxiety is relentless and is heightened if your relationship was on the rocks before lockdown.
Maybe you’ve been unhappy in your marriage/partnership for years. Or maybe for the last two or three years, you’ve been thinking about leaving. Perhaps the only thing holding your relationship together is guilt over splitting up your family. But after a lot of thought (and perhaps counselling or coaching) you’ve decided it’s time to tell your partner you want a divorce. Though it will be a difficult conversation to have, it’s possible to have a discussion with him/her that is effective and clear.
1. Consider your reasons for the divorce. Divorce/separation is often threatened during heated arguments, usually out of anger or frustration, to gain power and control over the other person, and to finally be taken seriously that you want real change.
2. Try not to blindside your partner/spouse. In most cases, both spouses are usually aware there is something wrong with the marriage/de facto relationship. You may have tried marital therapy together, done individual counselling, or had discussions about the troubles in the relationship. If possible, try to pursue coaching, counselling or therapy together first before jumping into a conversation about divorce.
3. Practice what you are going to say. This is going to likely be a very hard conversation to have with your partner. So get out a piece of paper and write down a few possible things you may include when you tell them about the separation.
4. Find a private, quiet space. Choose a time when you are both alone and no one is going to barge in during the conversation. Look for a space in your home, like the living room or the dining room, that is quiet and comfortable.
5. Have a third party in the room if you are worried about your safety. Perhaps you are divorcing for troubling reasons, like your husband or wife’s angry or abusive behaviour. If this is the care, have a third party present like a coach, therapist or a counsellor, or choose a more public place to talk to him.
1. Be calm, kind, and direct. Treat the conversation with all the gentleness you would use if you were telling her/him a loved one had died. Be direct, but also compassionate.
2. Focus on neutral language and “I” statements. Do not try to assume how your partner is feeling about your marriage/de facto relationship. Instead, report on the state of your own feelings and avoid placing any blame or shame on your spouse.
3. Be prepared for an angry response. Even if your other half may be aware there are issues in your marriage, he/she will likely be upset when you tell her/him you want a divorce. But it’s important that you do not retaliate, try to defend yourself, or try to justify your decision.
4. Address the possibility of a trial separation. Once his/her initial anger simmers down, your partner may try to negotiate with you on the terms of the separation. He/she may ask for a trial separation, where you both are separated but legally still married. Or he/she may ask you if you can both try coaching, therapy or counselling again. You should be prepared for these types of questions, especially if your partner will be devastated by your wish for a divorce.
5. Avoid discussing the details of the divorce right away. The initial talk with your spouse will likely be emotionally charged. So don’t rush into hashing out the details of the divorce when your first tell your partner of your desire to separate.
6. Give your partner time to process the information. Although you are both now anxious about the future and the details of the divorce, assure your spouse that he/she can take some time to think about what you have discussed.
Both you and your husband/wife need to focus on yourselves during this time. Divorce is usually an emotionally intense and difficult process. Aside from the necessary legal preparations, you should also both focus on your mental health by seeing a licensed therapist, regularly spending time with your support network, and upkeeping self-care activities that address both your emotional and physical well-being.
7 Decide on your living arrangements. It’s a good idea to determine if you are going to be staying in the home or if you are going to move out. Coming to an agreement about the living arrangements will help you both to adjust to this big change. Remind your husband/wife/partner that the living arrangements are temporary until the divorce is finalised.
8 Discuss breaking the news to the children, if any. If you and your husband/wife/partner have children, you will both need to agree on the best time and place to break the news. You should both sit your children down together, after dinner in a common area like the living room or the dining room, and explain the details of the separation.
9 Keep your distance. Though it may be tempting to console your husband/wife/partner by showing physical affection toward him, it’s important to maintain your distance and not fall back into the habits of your marriage. You want to avoid sending him/her mixed signals or hurting him/her further by staying emotionally or physically involved with him/her. Demonstrate how serious you are about the divorce by keeping your distance.
10 Take your children with you if you are dealing with an abusive husband/wife/partner. Don’t be afraid to do this if your partner threatens he/she will take the children from you. In fact, a judge will likely be more sympathetic towards you if you remove your children from a potentially dangerous situation with your partner.
11 Get a restraining order if you are concerned about your safety. If you are trying to divorce an abusive partner, it’s important to have a plan in place to protect yourself and your children, if you have any. A restraining order can give you a legal way to create distance between you and your spouse. You may want to get the restraining order before you tell your partner you want a divorce or once you and your children are in a safe place, away from your spouse.
1 Get a lawyer. It is much easier to have a collaborative approach to the divorce. It’s also less expensive if you and your partner are able to settle your issues without legal involvement.
These questions will help you to determine what style of lawyering you want to engage with during the divorce process. It will also help you to define the kind of service that you expect from your lawyer.
Lawyer Style and Reputation:
What Kinds of Service Can I Expect
Fees for Your Services
To end the interview
You need a clear picture of where you and your spouse stand financially. One of the main goals of a divorce is to have an equitable distribution of marital assets and debts. To get your fair share, you need to know what is owned by you and your partner and what is owed by you and your partner. To do this:
Prepare a post-divorce budget. It’s important that you figure out how you are going to live once you are divorced.
If you need help gathering together your financial information or preparing a budget Brigette Arnold, Divorce Financial Planner at Cambridge Partners and Equal Exes Expert Advisor is available to assist you. Click here to contact her.
Go to our Cornerstone page Dividing Your Things and take the quiz to work out your situation. And Watch the video below.