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C. Eric Schmidt - Attorney at Law

Marilyn Gale Vilyus - Founding Attorney - Semi-retired - of counsel to C.E. Schmidt and Associates, Attorneys at Law

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How to Tell Your Spouse that You Want a Divorce

By:  Marilyn Gale Vilyus

Oh my gosh -- how am I going to do this?  Whether your marriage has been long term or relatively short, there is no easy way to say “it’s over!!!”

Your spouse will be hurt.  However, after the initial shock, the response can range from “relief” and “cooperation” to the devastation of Hurricaine Katrina.

No matter how you say it, you are better off by saying it “with words!”  What I mean here is that telling your spouse has to be easier for them (and you) than having your spouse find out that you are having an affair!!!!!

Other  “BAD” ways to “announce” an upcoming divorce:

  1. Draining the checking account so that checks start bouncing all over town,
  2. Moving out and leaving no money to pay the mortgage and monthly bills,
  3. Closing all the bank accounts and credit cards without providing other support,
  4. Introducing your child to your new adult, opposite sex “friend,”
  5. “Walking out” without a forwarding address and disconnecting your cellphone,
  6. Posting pictures of yourself on facebook with your new “friend,”
  7. Joining an internet dating service (which, of course, your spouse discovers!) or
  8. Engaging in a litany of steamy email or text exchanges –- which are also discovered!

Even if “faithfulness” is not the issue, it’s never easy to tell your spouse you want a divorce!

Further, you may have your own doubts about what you really want!   As you can see, this really can be a confusing and difficult time for BOTH of you.

There are all kinds of things to think about!

  • What if you say something and then change your mind?  What if you want a “separation” to sort things out?
  • Will things ever be the same with your spouse?
  • Will your spouse decide “you’re done” even though you decide later you want to reconcile?
  • Will your spouse “blame the divorce” on you instead of assuming any responsibility at all for the failed relationship?
    • Will your spouse turn your kids against you?
    • How will they be affected by the divorce?
  • What if you want counseling but your spouse:
    • Refuses to go,
    • Goes -- but is not really emotionally committed to the counseling process,
    • Goes a few times and then quits (ie. The first time the counselor attempts to hold them accountable), or
    • Just "checks out” of the marriage –- either out of “hurt” or maybe as a defensive measure!
  • Will your spouse use this “sorting out time” to strengthen their case by doing the following?:
    • gathering possible fault evidence against you,
    • “G.P.S. ing”  you; taping your phone calls; investigating your phone bills and credit card receipts; using computer software to discover your actual conversations with friends, lovers, and even your attorney, etc.
    • start hiding money in big and/or little ways,
    • transferring funds (investments, retirement, etc.) or making decisions regarding characterization of retirement and/or employment determinations that will affect your community property rights,
    • Deferring “bonuses”, promotions/salary increases, and other forms of increases to income,
    • Changing payroll deductions to affect child support calculations,
    • “Maxing” out credit cards,
    • taking sudden steps to improve their relationship with the kids to affect possible custody determinations such as:
      • convincing the kids to live with them,
      • stepping up personal involvement with the kids (suddenly showing up at school open house, soccer games, etc.)
      • developing new uncharacteristic relationships with kids’ coaches, teachers, health providers, church youth ministers, etc.
      • developing a sudden interest in helping with homework and/or spending time with the kids!!!!
  • What if you ARE SURE you want a divorce but your spouse is the one insisting on counseling and/or “changing your mind?
  • This can be tough!  Know that if you want a divorce, you will get a divorce!  However, get ready for a possible onslaught of criticisms!  (Note:  this is, of course, NOT a judgment by me – I just want you to be “prepared” for the common reactions you might face by not just your spouse –- but also sometimes even by your family and friends!) 

"EVERYONE and his brother" will have divorce advice for you such as the following:

  • “You aren’t taking your marriage seriously” (and/or your religious commitment to the sanctity of marriage),
  • You are “running out on your kids” and “destroying their lives,”
  • You are “destroying your spouse’s life” because:
    • They are physically, emotionally, spiritually or financially fragile,
    • They “gave up” their career for you,
    • They put you through school and you owe them,
    • They left their family and home town and moved to a new city and/or Texas for your job,
    • They have no job skills and will suffer class shift,
    • They remained emotionally committed to you even though you are “Satan,” and now this is the thanks you are giving them,
    • You betrayed them and now they will never be able to trust anyone again,
    • Your leaving will give your kids permanent “abandonment” issues, and
    • You should stay for the kids!

In short, even if you were only married for a short time and/or don’t even have kids, be prepared that you MAY BE blamed for “the crumbling of civilization as we know it.”

  • What if you are pretty sure your spouse wants a divorce too? 

That should make things considerably easier. 

Also, even though your spouse DOES NOT want a divorce, they may very well be able to handle this situation objectively and agree to finalize the divorce in an uncontested manner.

As an attorney, I know this is possible because I have done thousands of “uncontested” divorces and helped clients to work out their settlement agreements calmly and fairly both with regard to custody and other “kid” issues as well as their property division!

Don’t  be discouraged!   You may not experience ANY of the “problems”  described here.  But, in case you do, know that you are not alone and that these types of “issues” are very commonly part of the challenge of a divorce.

Getting divorced is like running an obstacle course!  It’s easier to finish on your feet if you know in advance what kinds of things to look out for!!!!!

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