Skip to content

We speak English and French

Telling Your Spouse You Want a Divorce

Telling Your Spouse You Want a DivorceIt was never going to be easy. When two people decide to get married, they do so with the assumption they will stay that way for the rest of their lives. “Until death do us part” is one of the most common wedding vows out there. Unfortunately, marriage does not always have a happy ending. Sometimes, a couple can do all the right things and still determine the marriage is no longer viable. Perhaps there was an infidelity (or multiple), or too much fighting, or an unwillingness from one party to put in the work. Maybe you simply grew apart over the years and have changed too much to be compatible.

Whatever the reason, you have decided you are ready for a divorce. This difficult decision is the first of many, and it is always followed immediately with the next challenge – how do you tell your spouse?

Do’s and don’t’s

Every relationship is different, with its own complications and issues. This is, of course, because every person is different. There is no single, concrete answer on how to approach this difficult subject, and as such the following advice should be taken as subjective rather than an objective list of instructions. There are some commonalities that you can take into consideration, but anything that does not fit your situation can simply be modified at your discretion.

Before sitting your spouse down to break the news, here are some things to keep in mind.


  • Stop talking and listen. Once you have told your spouse you want a divorce, it’s time to listen to what he or she has to say. If your spouse is willing to discuss matters in reasonable tones and terms, then your divorce can likely be done in a reasonable manner and cost. This may help alleviate any sadness or guilt you feel, as well. Your spouse may not say “I want to get divorced, too,” but he or she may show you that the feelings are mutual.
  • Stay calm. Tensions may never be higher, but you can mitigate unnecessary fighting by keeping a level head.
  • Choose the right time. If your spouse just came home from a horrible day of work, it might be best for you to wait for another day.
  • Empathize. Regardless of where you both are now, at one point you were close enough to agree to get married. You know this person. Put yourself in their shoes to avoid saying things you know will hurt them unnecessarily.
  • Stand your ground. You came to this decision for a reason. Depending on your spouse’s reaction, your resolve may waver or crumble. Remember that staying in a marriage purely for the other person can only end poorly, and it is also unfair to you.
  • Put safety first, specifically in cases of domestic abuse. If you are worried about your spouse’s reaction for safety reasons, pick a public place to break the news. Have trusted friends or family on standby, and somewhere else to stay. If the abuse is financial as well, it may be a good idea to have an attorney ready to help.


  • Bully. No matter how angry you are, it is never okay to abuse your spouse physically or verbally. Some hurt is inevitable if the decision to divorce is not mutual but shouting insults and using your fists can only backfire.
  • Discuss too much too soon. Deciding to divorce is already a huge step, and however you choose to bring it up will still be draining. Now is not the time to think about alimony, custody, or anything beyond agreeing to divorce.
  • Let them goad you into a fight. As much as you are able, remember to keep a clear head and focus on being civil and firm. If your spouse is being combative, walk away knowing that you may be facing a contentious divorce.
  • Rush into anything. Know what you plan to bring up ahead of time. Practice your words. Ensure any children you may have are someplace they will not overhear you. Make any necessary arrangements before you sit down with your spouse.

How your divorce proceedings could be affected

Aside from the emotional consequences of a bad separation, there are also legal concerns. An angry spouse may fight you on issues that could have been resolved without much intervention. For example, if you scream and hurt them during your discussion, they may use this as grounds to fight for custody of your children. If you anger them unnecessarily, they may fight for higher alimony (if applicable — the reverse is also true) and a greater reward of marital property. In North Carolina, the distribution of marital property is equitable, not equal. This means it only needs to be fair in the eyes of the court.

Seeking revenge in divorce is not uncommon. It is important to remember this is meant to be a parting of the ways, not a fight. North Carolina is also a no-fault divorce state, which means neither of you needs to prove the other did something wrong to be granted a divorce. It is wise not to use your divorce proceedings to seek revenge for any of your spouse’s wrongdoings.

When you are ready, and regardless of your spouse’s reaction, you will need a qualified Charlotte divorce attorney to ease as much of the strain as possible. This is a difficult, heart-wrenching situation that requires both delicate and thorough handling by people who are trained and ready to help. With offices in Charlotte, Concord, Weddington, and Boone, our team at Epperson Law Group, PLLC is here for you when and where you need us. If you and your spouse are ready to start the process of divorce, call us at 704-321-0031 or contact us today.