Divorce is never easy. But once you have decided it is for the best, there are steps you can take as you prepare to ask your spouse for a divorce that can make the transition into this next phase of life less difficult for you both.
Here are 8 tips for how to ask for a divorce:
1. Be Compassionate But Direct
There is a saying, “To be clear is to be kind and to be kind is to be clear.” If you keep it ambiguous to avoid hurting the other person’s feelings they may not believe you really are going through with it. On the other hand, pick a time, place and language that takes their feelings into account. Be prepared to listen. Understand they may be in shock and will need some time to process. Be in a place that is private but also safe for both of you. Adults should have this discussion THEN decide how to tell the children, staying on the same page.
2. Avoid Blame
If you are going separate ways for sure, remember this is a no-fault state. As the song says, “There ain’t no good guys, there ain’t no bad guys, there’s just you and me and we just disagree.” This is NOT the time to tell your spouse everything wrong with them and get into a blaming contest. Instead, use statements that do not leave room for argument. Statements like, “I am going to file for divorce in January” and “I have decided that I do not want to be married to you anymore. It breaks my heart, but I made up my mind” leave no room for argument. Statements like, “If you did not drink so much then I would stay with you” or “I cannot live with your nonsense anymore” are opening the door to argument. Now is not the time to start an argument. It is too late.
3. Do Your Homework and Have a Plan
You should know the law, know your rights, have all the financial information for both of you, and have a parenting plan in mind before you announce the divorce. It will be harder to get this information later. Besides, both parties to a marriage should have all the financial information at all times. That is part of a strong marriage and also part of a divorce. If one of you is moving out, have a plan for how this will work, including paying the costs of both living places. If you are living together during the divorce, have a plan to keep privacy and calm.
4. Understand Their Reaction May Take Time
Just because you are ready does not mean your partner is too. Also, you have done your homework and have a plan in mind. It makes sense to simply announce the divorce to start. Set another time to talk about HOW it will proceed. And give them time to process but also make sure you stay on track with any court deadlines once you file.
5. Safety First
If there is domestic violence or the threat of it in your marriage, you must have a safety plan in place. Never put your spouse, the children or yourself in harm’s way. If you have a tendency to get angry or lose it or simply suspect you will be accused of acting inappropriately, it is better that you share information in a public venue where you are calm and be prepared to walk away if either of you becomes emotional. If you think the other person may act violently, again, a public place may make sense. Have a safety plan in mind BEFORE you make the announcement. Nonprofits such as the Crisis Center, Family Tree, Safehouse Denver and Project Safeguard can help you form a safety plan. Especially if you are seeking a protection order or removing the children, pets or property from the home, you must have a plan in place to protect your rights and ensure you are not accused of disrupting parenting time or taking property.
6. Get Legal Advice BEFORE You Act
We have MANY clients who call us for a free consult BEFORE they ask for divorce. We can help them prepare and even give pointers regarding how to present the request for a divorce. Each case is different, so a personal consult with an attorney can help tailor the conversation and planning to what works best for you. If you elect unbundled legal services, we can continue to work behind the scenes to help things go smoothly, transitioning to more representation if needed.
7. Fasten Your Seatbelt, It’s Going to Be a Bumpy Ride
Even when it is mutual and both parties get along, divorce is never easy. There are financial deadlines and choices to make. You are in crisis mode, so put what you can on the back burner. Take care of yourself physically by working out, eating right, staying fit, and trying to get some sleep. Avoid bad habits like drinking to excess or using drugs to numb the pain. Take care of yourself mentally and emotionally. Get into therapy if needed. Find one or two friends who can keep confidences. Learn to meditate or reach out spiritually, whatever works for you.
Take care of yourself financially by forming and sticking to a financial plan, check in every week and watch for money moves by the other party. Keep records of all finances. Take care of yourself legally by hiring an attorney AND by staying on top of your case, including tracking and meeting deadlines. You are about to commence on a marathon, a financial audit, a business breakup, a family restructuring, an all-consuming court case, a change of residence, a possible parenting assessment, a possible mental health assessment, and an identity crisis all at once. Be easy on yourself. As someone said to me when I divorced, “You have made a big decision and the other pieces will fall into place.”
8. Stay Calm and Model Calmness
Fake it ‘til you make it when it comes to being calm and upbeat around your spouse. This sets the tone instead of ramping up the tension. You both will get through it. And as the substantial formerly married population demonstrates, there IS life after divorce. They moved on and so can both of you.
To learn more about how Andersen Law PC can help guide you through divorce, contact us for your free consult at 720-922-3880 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.