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How Can I Tell My Partner That I Want a Divorce?

There is no getting around the fact that telling your spouse that you want a divorce is a sensitive matter that needs careful consideration of your unique circumstances. When you begin to think ‘I want a divorce’ you will, without a doubt, start to think long and hard about your next decisions. This includes considering the consequences for you, your children, and your partner. It may be the case that they are having similar thoughts or they may not have contemplated such an outcome. Either way, it is important to respect their feelings and approach the matter in a sensitive and caring way, with their needs also taken into consideration. In this article, we will provide some advice based on our experience of working with many divorcing couples regarding how to tell your partner that you want a divorce.

1.    Take some time out to consider your decision before telling your partner

The fact that you are reading this page suggests that you have either made the decision to leave your partner or you are very close to doing so. You may have already gone through relationship counselling or tried several ways to try to rescue your marriage. If you have had relationship counselling, it may be easier to approach the topic of divorce with your therapist as they should provide a safe, controlled environment. Whether you’re thinking  ‘How do I divorce my husband (or wife)’ or are wondering logistically How to get divorced, it takes a lot to navigate and approach in a level-headed manner.

If you are still questioning ‘do I want a divorce?’ and haven’t looked into relationship counselling, we would strongly urge starting there. However, if you have reached the point of wanting to outline the process of divorce and how to discuss divorce with your partner, then we recommend you continue reading.

Having reached this point, where possible, it can sometimes be extremely useful to get away for a few days to reflect on your current circumstances and the decision you are making. Getting away from our often hectic everyday life can give us the space and time we need to see our situation for what it really is. It may be that the stress of everyday life, money problems, loss of employment, or health issues may be weighing down your marriage or civil partnership. Taking time out can help us to realise what is really happening and why we feel the way we do.

2.    Take time to plan how and when you will tell your partner

It is important to find an appropriate time and place to begin discussing divorce with your partner, away from children. Of course, there is no perfect time to tell your partner you want to separate; for example, telling them when they leave for work is probably not appropriate.  

  • Tell your partner about your decision when you both have the time to sit down and discuss the matter and process what has happened.
  • Write down what you want to say. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, we forget to say what is truly important, leaving out vital points which can make all the difference. Even if you are angry with your partner, try to be calm and balanced in your approach. While perhaps easier said than done, try not to allow the conversation to degrade into fighting and blame; this will only make matters worse. While there is no escaping the fact that your partner may be shocked and upset by your decision, by taking a sensitive and caring approach, you can lessen the emotional impact on them.
  • Recognise that your partner may be oblivious to your unhappiness and therefore may be in shock and have particularly heightened emotions. It is not unusual for partners to be completely unaware that their wife or husband is considering divorce. On the other hand, they may be expecting your decision to divorce at any moment. Begin by recognising the emotional gap between you and your spouse. While you may have contemplated the decision extensively, your spouse will need to process the news, and it is important to give them the space and time to do so. 

3.    Have a plan for how you can separate fairly and amicably

Coupled with the emotional impact of hearing that you want a divorce, your partner may also be worried about more practical matters such as children, property, and money. It can be extremely useful to have an outline in mind for how these important considerations can be handled once you have separated. This may include:

  • Potential child arrangements
  • How your assets can be split
  • Where you will both live. 

Your husband or wife may not want to discuss these practical matters immediately, however, if they do raise these concerns, you can explain that you have already given them proper thought. This will help to reassure them that even though you are divorcing, they will still see their children on a regular basis, they have a roof over their head, and they will have money to move on with their new life.

4.    Be open and honest at all times

In many marriages, it is the lack of discussion and honesty that leads to the breakdown of the relationship. Having made the decision to divorce, now is the time for complete honesty. 
Your partner may have a lot of questions for you as they try to make sense of the situation. As much as possible, answer their questions openly, honestly, respectfully, and patiently, even if you know they won’t like what you are saying. That said, you don’t know everything and you are not an expert in this area. It is quite normal, to be honest about your own uncertainty regarding the process and what will happen next. After all, this is a new turn in life, and you may not know where it leads to. 

03 January 2024
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Final words

While the tips above offer general advice, seeking guidance from a divorce law Solicitor will ensure you receive tailored advice for your specific situation, ensuring a more amicable separation. Many individuals considering divorce turn to us at this challenging time to protect their interests and those of their children. Our divorce law team can offer tools and strategies to minimize stress for the entire family.

Guillaumes LLP Solicitors is a full-service law firm based in Weybridge, Surrey. We have a highly experienced divorce law team who can assist you with all divorce matters. To make an appointment, please call us on 01932 840 111.