Ending a relationship, especially a marriage, is hard.
There are heated emotions, hurt feelings, money anxieties, and complicated logistics (not to mention kid issues if there are children still at home).
If you've decided to end your marriage but haven't figured out how to start the process, you aren't alone.
"How do I tell him/her?" is a very common question in my practice.
With a little thought and consideration, you can find a way to break the news and get yourself on the path to getting out.
Get Yourself Ready
Before you do anything, spend some time getting yourself ready.
Spend some time learning about the family finances if you aren't familiar. Gather up as much information as you can without causing a stir.
Be sure that you have set up your financial foundation with a bank account in your name and access to ready cash.
Now is also a good time to establish a private email address if you don't have one, and make sure you'll still have phone service if things get unpleasant.
Also give some thought to living arrangements. Will you move out, or will your spouse?
Knowing all or most of these things in advance will smooth your transition.
Start With the End in Mind
There are a few ways to get divorced in Texas. The method you choose should inform how you decide to break the news to your spouse.
If you are seeking a collaborative-style divorce, sitting them down and telling them plainly that you want out may be the best approach.
Being open and honest from the outset will foster trust.
Trust is key to any collaborative process and may help you unwind your marriage in a compassionate and loving manner.
In this case, it may be useful to role-play or practice with a friend or therapist. Consider all you want to say (and all you don't want to say), and plan for how to cope if things don't go well.
If you anticipate that your soon-to-be-ex will be in no mood to collaborate, you may be in for a mediated divorce. Mediated settlements are very common in Texas divorces; most cases settle at the mediation table.
If you think that your soon-to-be-ex can handle hearing the news from you, it may be wise to sit them down and tell them you want out just as you would if you are seeking a collaborative divorce.
If you are in a situation where domestic violence is an issue, or if you anticipate breaking the news could lead to an ugly fight, you may need to leave quickly and without much advance notice.
This might involve moving yourself and your things out of the family home while they are away. It could also involve having a member of law enforcement escort them from the family home after they are served with divorce papers.
If you are in a situation where your safety could be at risk, seek guidance from a qualified family law attorney who can help you plan to get out safely.
Remember, how you leave should be dictated by the dynamics of your relationship, your desired divorce method, and the preservation of your safety.
Whatever you do, don't drop the D-word while you are in the middle of a fight and angry. Your spouse either won't take you seriously, or they may do something rash. Choose your moment wisely.
If you haven't already interviewed and hired a divorce attorney, you'll need to make this your next priority.
Divorce is first and foremost a legal process, and you need a legal expert to advocate for you, guide you through the process, and offer tactical advice as issues arise.
As with the way you will break the news, your choice of attorney should be dictated by your desired divorce method and relationship dynamics.
If you wish to collaborate, you need an attorney willing and able to facilitate that.
If you're headed for mediation, choose someone who mediates regularly. If there are domestic violence issues, find an attorney who works with DV survivors.
If dropping the D-word will start World War III, you're going to need a litigator.
Again, the dynamics and the process should dictate your choice.
If you've decided how to get divorced, made a plan for breaking the news, and hired a divorce attorney, you're just about as ready as you'll ever be to leave.
But a note of caution: Don't be in a hurry, even if you've decided.
Even if you've retained an attorney. Even if you've already told your best friend. If you aren't ready to tell your soon-to-be-ex yet, just take a breath and wait a bit.
Often, breaking the news that you want a divorce is a point of no return. Take this step only when you feel ready.
Once you are ready, it's usually best to rip off the band-aid.
Dragging things out by hinting around divorce or disappearing but not telling your spouse you want a divorce will likely muddy the waters, lead to more hurt feelings, and generally make things worse.
Be bold, be decisive, and get yourself out.
Leaving isn't easy.
Your attorney and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ professionals like me are here to make it less difficult.