What to Do When Your Spouse Wants a Divorce

Things to Do After Your Spouse Asks for a Divorce

The moment your spouse expresses the desire for a divorce, your life can take an unexpected turn. Whether this announcement comes as a shock or the culmination of long-standing issues, navigating the path forward requires a thoughtful approach, balancing emotional well-being with practical considerations.

This blog aims to serve as a comprehensive guide, outlining the essential steps one should take when faced with the prospect of a divorce. From understanding and managing the initial emotional turmoil to addressing the legal intricacies and financial implications, our goal is to equip you with the knowledge and resources needed to navigate this challenging phase.

Avoid Lashing Out or Reacting in Harmful Ways

While it is hard to hear that your spouse wants a divorce, reacting impulsively can further damage the relationship and make the process of reconciliation or the divorce process more difficult for everyone involved. Some of the harmful behaviors you should avoid include the following:

  • Trying to buy back affection. Offering grand gestures or promises of change to manipulate your spouse back might seem tempting, but true reconciliation requires genuine effort and a willingness to address underlying issues.
  • Begging. Pleading and desperation can push your spouse further away. Focus on expressing your own feelings in a healthy way, such as through journaling or talking to a therapist.
  • Acting out. Lashing out in anger, blaming your spouse, or engaging in destructive behaviors like excessive drinking or neglecting responsibilities only creates a more toxic environment.
  • Gossiping. You should avoid bad-mouthing your spouse to friends and family and avoid discussing the situation with others until you and your spouse have talked about how you want to proceed and how you want to share the news with others. If you have children, gossip can be especially harmful, as they could learn the news from someone else as well.
  • Idealizing. While you may want to refute the issues that your spouse mentions when asking for a divorce, you should acknowledge that problems exist. Only seeing the good will not help you move forward with reconciliation or with separation.
  • Harassing. After asking for a divorce, you and your spouse may agree to give one another space to process and decide on how to move forward. During your separation, you shouldn’t call them or test them excessively. Respect their request for space and take the time to reflect on yourself. It is also important to note that your text and email messages can be used as evidence during your divorce.
  • Spying. You should not physically or electronically surveil your spouse (i.e. following them, checking their email or online communication, reviewing their cell phone records, etc.). Not only does this breach the trust between you, but you also risk facing legal repercussions.

Consider What You Want

When faced with the unexpected news of a spouse requesting a divorce, it's natural to experience a whirlwind of emotions. Allow yourself time to process this difficult information. Grief, anger, confusion, and a yearning to understand are all valid responses. However, before making any immediate decisions, take a step back and consider your own desires for the future of the marriage.

In considering your wishes, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you share your spouse's sentiment?
  • Is there a part of you that has also felt disconnected or unfulfilled?
  • Alternatively, do you see a path towards reconciliation and rebuilding the relationship?

Honest introspection is crucial at this juncture. If you have a flicker of hope for salvaging the marriage, consider couples therapy as a potential avenue to explore. Remember, open communication and a willingness to work together are essential for any attempt at reconciliation.

Respect Your Spouse’s Decision

When faced with your spouse wanting a divorce, it's crucial to acknowledge and respect their choice, even if it's not what you desire. This doesn't mean giving up hope for reconciliation entirely. You can and should express your own feelings and a willingness to attend couples counseling to explore potential solutions. However, it's important to understand that your spouse also holds the right to decide their path forward.

It is also important that you understand that the law does allow spouses to proceed with a divorce even if one party does not wish to divorce. Thus, while you should understand what you want and communicate that with your spouse, they can still file for a contested divorce.

You Must Respond to a Divorce Petition

Even if you do not want to get divorced, if you are served divorce papers, it is imperative that you file a response. Failing to respond can allow the filing party to ask the court to allow for a default judgment. This means that the divorce will be finalized without your input and based on the terms outlined by your spouse in their filing.

Commit to Moving Forward with Confidence

Approaching the situation with confidence, regardless of the final outcome, is crucial. This doesn't mean ignoring your emotions but rather taking charge of your future. By actively participating in counseling or the divorce process, you'll gain clarity and a sense of control, empowering you to navigate this difficult chapter.

Understand Your Rights & the Law

In the face of a divorce, understanding your legal rights and the intricacies of family law becomes paramount. This knowledge is not only crucial for those who are certain to proceed with the divorce but equally vital for individuals who are undecided.

Taking the time to educate yourself on matters such as child custody, child support, alimony, and property division can significantly impact both the process and the outcome of a divorce. Being unprepared or uninformed can lead to decisions that may not be in one's best interest or that of their children.

While you can do some research online, you should also consult with an experienced attorney. They can offer you more personalized counsel and information, and even if you do not move forward with your divorce, getting your questions answered and understanding the divorce process is imperative. Also, by talking with an attorney, you have already found an attorney that can handle your case.

Get the Right Support

In addition to retaining an attorney, you should also seek support from friends, family, and even professionals (like financial advisors, financial accountants, etc.). Some of the reasons it is important to have good people around you include:

  • Having emotional outlets. Divorce is a rollercoaster of emotions – anger, sadness, confusion. Bottling these up can be detrimental. A support network provides a safe space to vent, cry, and express every feeling without judgment. Talking to trusted friends and family allows you to release pent-up emotions and gain a sense of perspective.
  • Benefiting from shared experiences. You're not alone. Many people have been through divorce, and a support network can connect you with those who understand. Sharing experiences can be incredibly comforting. Support groups specifically for divorce can offer a unique space to learn from others and feel a sense of community.
  • Getting practical help. Divorce comes with a lot of logistical hurdles, from childcare arrangements to financial planning. A strong support network can offer practical help with errands, meals, or simply watching the kids for a much-needed break. This frees up time and mental space for you to navigate the legalities and emotional aspects of the divorce.
  • Increasing your strength and resilience. Going through a divorce can be tough on your self-esteem. A supportive network can be your cheering squad, reminding you of your strengths and offering encouragement as you move forward. Their belief in you can be a powerful source of resilience during this challenging time.
  • Gaining counsel. When it comes to adding professionals to your support network, you should consider what areas of your life and case you will need help with. For instance, if you are on the value of assets, you should consult an appraiser. Or if you need help with budgeting, you might consider retaining a financial advisor.

It is important to note that online communities can be welcoming and great support for many people. However, you should use caution when posting online, because, as we mentioned, your communication can be used as evidence against you in your divorce case. Even seemingly innocent posts or content can have their meaning and intent twisted and questioned.

For instance, let’s say you’re in a support group on Facebook and share updates about your life as it relates to coping with your divorce. In a post, you share that you are starting to take more time for yourself and share photos of a night out you had with some friends. The opposing counsel may try to use this post to bring your parenting abilities into question.

In another instance, photos of a vacation may be used to cast doubt on your financial need for spousal or child support. These images may also be used to question your fidelity during your marriage if you took the trip with someone else.

Financial Preparation: Take a Look at Your Finances & Assets

It is important that you take control of your finances if your spouse asks for a divorce. Not only will you be empowered no matter what path forward you take, but you will also be prepared for the future.

Here are some steps you can take to have financial readiness:

  • Gather your documents. Get copies of everything – bank statements, investment records, pay stubs, tax returns, and debt records. This will give you a clear picture of your financial situation and aid in dividing assets and debts fairly.
  • Understand your finances. Once you have all your documents, sit down and analyze your income, expenses, and the value of marital assets (house, cars, etc.). This will help you determine your financial needs moving forward and the potential impact of the divorce.
  • Open separate accounts. If you have joint bank accounts or credit cards, consider opening separate ones in your own name. This way, you can build your own credit history and track your individual spending.
  • Budget for the future. Divorce often means a change in lifestyle. Create a realistic budget that factors in potential changes in housing, childcare, and other expenses. Look for areas where you can cut back and explore ways to increase your income if necessary.
  • Seek professional help. As we mentioned, you need support, and consulting a financial advisor can be invaluable. They can help you understand the financial implications of divorce, develop a solid post-divorce budget, and make informed decisions about dividing assets and debts.

Keep Busy

In the face of divorce, you should take some time to recharge and focus on yourself. You should consider diving into a new hobby or rediscovering a new one because:

  • It can fill a void. A spouse leaving creates a significant amount of free time. Filling this void with a new activity keeps your mind occupied and prevents you from dwelling on negativity. Learning a new skill, like playing an instrument or taking a pottery class, can be a great distraction and a source of accomplishment.
  • It can boost mental health. Divorce can take a toll on your mental well-being. Engaging in activities you enjoy releases endorphins, those feel-good chemicals in your brain. This can combat feelings of sadness, anxiety, and loneliness that often accompany divorce. Whether it's painting, hiking, or joining a book club, find something that sparks joy and allows you to relax and de-stress.
  • It encourages you to maintain your overall well-being. Taking care of yourself during this time goes beyond just mental well-being. Make an effort to maintain a healthy routine, eat nutritious meals, and get enough sleep. Prioritize activities that make you feel good about the way you look, whether it's hitting the gym, getting a haircut, or trying a new outfit. Taking pride in your appearance can boost your mood and confidence.

Considering Divorce? Reach Out to Law Office of Jody L. Fisher.

At Law Office of Jody L. Fisher, our attorney has been serving clients in Central Florida since 2006. Should you need legal counsel during your divorce, Attorney Fisher is equipped to help.

Known for taking a hands-on approach to cases, our dedicated team can help you understand your legal rights, develop a comprehensive plan based on your case goals, and work to achieve favorable case results. Call (352) 503-4111 to request an initial consultation today!

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