Telling Your Spouse You Want A Divorce

Virtually all divorces must begin with one person telling the other that they want a divorce. How this happens will almost always predict what kind of divorce you will have which will, in turn, dictate your post divorce relationship.

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor once publicly stated:

The courts of this country should not be the places where resolution of disputes begins. They should be the places where the disputes end after alternative methods of resolving disputes have been considered and tried.

The correctness of this statement is obvious. Lawyers have misused the justice system and have used the courts as the first place to go for a resolution of disputes, causing delays lasting many years and financially bankrupting their clients. For many Family Law attorneys, the filing a Summons and Complaint for divorce and serving it on a spouse is the only way to inform a person that their spouse is seeking a divorce. This process is almost always guaranteed to cause protracted litigation that will only benefit the divorce lawyer’s bank account.

Not only will the litigants be forced to pay tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in litigation cost to their divorce lawyers and wait months or perhaps years to have their case heard in court, the sheer nastiness of the litigation will almost always irreparably damage the family relationships after the divorce is over. Knowing how to speak to your spouse about a divorce will be critical in laying the groundwork to establish a future positive relationship with your family and to preserve your family’s financial resources.

It is often best to take responsibilty up front, make no excuses or lay blame, and engage in a mature, rational discussion. Don’t expect that this will be the first and only time you talk with your spouse about divorce. You have been thinking about it for a long time and have perhaps taken your spouse by surprise (even if your spouse should have seen the “writing on the wall”, some of us are eternally in denial!). Baby steps are best.

An article in Psychology Today  suggests that we look at this process as a series of small discussions, that we listen, show compassion, and do not engage in argument or debate. Our spouse is “hearing” this for the first time and will need time to catch up. Your spouse will go through a grieving process similar to death (after all, the trauma of divorce can be very much like the trauma of a death). Denial, anger, resignation, etc. are all normal and should be anticipated.

The problem occurs when a divorce lawyer files a lawsuit without any prior notice or discussion. In many instances, it will cause a visceral reaction not supported by the evidence in the case. This is as a direct result of an instinctual response caused in our brain when confronted with information we feel threatens our safety and security. In this situation, you can expect your spouse to fight for his or her life and will be willing to pay their attorney whatever it costs to keep them “alive”.

At some point your spouse will move through the grieving process and come to the realization that they must go on. It is at this point, much to the chagrin of the trial lawyers, that your case will resolve.

Telling your spouse you want a divorce will likely be one of the most difficult things you have ever done. This is your responsibility, not the responsibility of a trial lawyer. A nasty divorce lawsuit will only prolong your spouse’s transition through the grieving process, remove thousands of dollars from the marital estate that could otherwise go to you, your spouse and your children, and permanently damage future family relationships.

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