The Divorce Talk

How Do I Talk to My Spouse About Divorce?

It is always tough to tell your spouse you want a divorce. Are they going to get angry or emotional? Are they going to try to talk you out of it, or go into attack mode? And of course, it is just hard to admit that the marriage is over.

You may want to discuss with an attorney how best to bring the subject of divorce up with your spouse. After all, we do have a lot of experience with divorce. And there are some situations where it may be best to hold off. For instance, if there is a history of domestic violence, you may need to arrange to vacate the home before you broach divorce. Making a separation plan is also a good thing to discuss with a Seattle divorce attorney.

What are the First Steps?

First, think about what kind of divorce you want to have. If you are hoping to keep the conflict down rather than ramping it up, giving notice of the divorce by serving papers on your spouse is NOT the way to go. That can be a big slap across the face that says I don’t like or trust you enough to even discuss this with you.

But if you are ready to take the plunge, here are some things to keep in mind. Find a time when you are both calm, and out of hearing range of any children. This IS a difficult conversation, so don’t go into it when one of you is already angry about something else. What you say may also depend on what you know about where your partner is at. If you know they may have been thinking about divorce the conversation should be very different from one whether the other person has no idea this is coming.

Some Tips for Keeping the Peace in a Divorce Conversation

To help keep fear from ramping your partner up, let them know that while you are ready to divorce, you are not looking to turn it into a big fight or take advantage of them. Tell them you hope the two of you can cooperate in peacefully finding ways to come to terms that work for both of you, that you want to explore options for reaching agreement outside of court.

If you have children, also let your partner know that you do not want to fight over the children, but rather develop plans for how the two of you can most effectively co-parent while living in separate households.

Stop there and ask your partner how they would like to see the divorce proceed. Right from the start this needs to be a two way conversation, not just you talking. Asking for their input helps them start to feel that they have a role, it helps them start to imagine a better way forward, and gives you some clues as to what they may be open to.

Then if things are still on track, you can mention that you have found information about alternative divorce methods where attorneys help you cooperate rather than fight. If that seems of interest to them, ask if they would like you to find the names of attorneys who do this kind of work so they can have someone to get more information from. If your partner is open to it, we are happy to suggest the names of attorneys we have worked well with in the past in collaborative cases.

What If I Think My Spouse Will Accept the Divorce Easily?

Another option is to both talk with a collaborative divorce coach (one of the typical team members on a collaborative case). They can tell you a great deal about the process as well as attorneys they have worked with. Again, we can give you the names of some divorce coaches we have worked with in the past.

For more information about some of the different divorce options, take a look at