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There are a lot of issues to resolve when you make the decision to divorce. You’ll need to figure out how you and your spouse will divide marital assets and debts, develop a child custody and visitation arrangement, and resolve child support and alimony disputes. As stressful as it can be to address these matters, there’s something else difficult you’ll have to do before you even get to that point: tell your spouse that you want a divorce.

Your approach to breaking the news will depend heavily on your unique set of circumstances. However, by keeping a few things in mind, you might be able to ease tension, relieve yourself of the burden of carrying your emotions on the inside, and set the stage for your divorce proceedings.

  • Try not to surprise your spouse. Doing so may lead to more conflict and an exaggerated response. It can also shut them down which can stall any discussions about how to move ahead.
  • Be calm and direct. You don’t want to mislead your spouse. If you do, you might just prolong the divorce and increase emotional strife. Be clear if you’re seeking a divorce or if you merely want to separate to gauge whether divorce is appropriate.
  • Don’t blame your spouse. This will only lead to defensiveness and arguments, which do nothing to forward your efforts to end your marriage, especially if you intend to do so amicably.
  • Give your spouse time. News of a divorce is big and, oftentimes, unexpected. Your spouse will probably need time to think it through. Let him or her know that you’re willing to give some space and will work toward a fair resolution.

As mentioned, breaking the news of divorce is just the first challenging step you’ll face along the path to marriage dissolution. But you can walk that path with confidence, perhaps especially if you have the guidance of an experienced divorce attorney by your side.