Attorney Eric D. Puryear

How to Talk to Your Spouse About Divorce

Puryear Law » Legal Blog » Family Law in General » How to Talk to Your Spouse About Divorce

In divorce case, there is always the question about how to break the news about a divorce to one’s spouse.  The right way to handle the sharing of that information is something that will be different for each person, depending upon the unique facts in each case.


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For some people, a discussion about an impending divorce is a difficult one filled with emotion.  I have had clients who wished to discuss the matter with their spouse but just could not bring themselves to say the words.

For others, a conversation about divorce is simple and almost devoid of emotion.  Some clients – especially those who have long since been living separately from their spouse – see divorce mainly as a housekeeping matter to make the legal system recognize the marital breakdown that has already happened months or years ago.  This is often especially true in uncontested divorces in Illinois and Iowa.

In cases where there are concerns about domestic violence or parental kidnapping, it is especially important to handle the matter properly so as to safety.  The same can be true when there is cherished property or pets involved.  Financial matters can also affect the determination as to the best approach to take.


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It is important to remember that even in situations where one spouse has their emotions in check, the other spouse may not.  While that obviously does not justify a spouse acting in a violent or otherwise inappropriate manner, there is a risk that a spouse may react poorly upon learning of the divorce. It is therefore prudent to take action to protect oneself, one’s children, and one’s property against any foreseeable problems.  Toward that end, there are some things that everyone who is considering discussing divorce with their spouse is wise to at least consider in consultation with their attorney:

  • Timing of the discussion – Breaking the news of divorce on a Friday evening is about the worst time, given the fact that attorneys and courts tend to be closed or less available on the weekends.  In the event that there was some emergency as a result it could be more difficult to address over the weekend.
  • Location of the discussion – It should go without saying that it could be unwise and downright dangerous to discuss divorce with a known domestically abusive spouse in a secluded location.
  • Bystanders – Having such a discussion within earshot of one’s children is not ideal, as children should not be exposed to such adult matters.  Both Illinois and Iowa law would frown upon a parent who placed their children in the middle in that manner.
  • Who should break the news – In some cases, it is best for the spouses to discuss the divorce.  In other cases, allowing a spouse to receive notice of the divorce through service of process is the best approach to take.


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