How to Let Your Spouse Know You Are Filing for Divorce

Woman divorcing and taking off wedding bandIf you are thinking about filing for divorce, it’s important to know how to let your spouse know it. In some couples, the idea of divorce may be in one partner’s mind, but far from the other’s. In others, there may be dissatisfaction or even counseling and separation, but not an agreement on divorce.

There are two aspects to letting your spouse know: the emotional and the legal.

Emotional Aspects

You need to let your spouse know respectfully that you are filing for divorce. First, you need to choose a place and time when you will have some time to discuss your plans. It needs to be a place where you can talk privately and without interruption, especially by phones, other adults, or your children.

Second, plan what you will say. You will to make it clear that you are moving ahead with divorce. Never equivocate. The break has to be clearly stated, or arguments can ensue, especially if your spouse doesn’t want to divorce or is highly anxious or agitated about the prospect.

Third, never blame your spouse during the discussion. That only lays the groundwork for recrimination later on. You must separate for the happiness of both should be your message.

Fourth, if possible, emphasize your desire to reach a fair settlement in terms of spousal support and children. 

Can I File for Divorce Without Notifying My Spouse?

Note that the initial discussion is just for information between you and a spouse. It has no legal standing.

For divorce proceedings to begin, you will need to visit an attorney specializing in divorce or family law.

Sometimes, we are asked if a divorce filing can be done without notifying a spouse. While it is possible to begin the proceedings without notification, a spouse must eventually be served court papers, called a divorce petition or summons, that indicate a divorce action is pending in court.

These papers must be filed in the appropriate court, and are then served to the spouse.

There are several ways to serve these papers, including via mail, a process server, or hand delivery by a person neither yourself nor one of your children. Your lawyer can advise you as to the customary method.

One of the points of serving the papers is so the spouse can respond if the divorce is to be contested.

If You Need a Divorce Lawyer in New York or New Jersey

If you need a Rockland County divorce lawyer, Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman have been helping clients with divorce and related processes in New York and New Jersey for more than 40 years.

If talks with your spouse are not viable, we can negotiate and fight for your rights via litigation.

We are here to guide you through a range of issues, such as child custody, visitation rights, child support, alimony and spousal support, division of marital assets, modification after divorce, parental relocation, and conservatorships.

Additional Resources:

  1. Dillon, Cheryl. “How To Tell Your Spouse You Want a Divorce.” Equitable Mediation. https://www.equitablemediation.com/blog/how-to-ask-your-spouse-for-a-divorce.
  2. Margulies, Sam. “Telling Your Spouse You Want a Divorce.” Psychology Today. November 12, 2009. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/divorce-grownups/200911/telling-your-spouse-you-want-divorce.
  3. Women’sDivorce.com. How To Serve Divorce Papers. https://www.womansdivorce.com/how-to-serve-divorce-papers.html.