Publish date

4 January 2022

What should you do if your spouse wants a divorce?

It is often the case that one person decides before the other that the marriage is at an end. They may have thought about it for weeks or months before they made that thought public. As a result they are likely to have made plans about how things could work and what they want to happen. If you are the person who hasn’t made that decision, it can come as a huge shock. Not only are you dealing with the grief that the relationship is at an end, you are also dealing with the shock of a sudden decision along with a myriad of emotions that the decision maker isn’t feeling. This makes it very difficult to process the practicalities of divorce as the emotions can be all encompassing.

There should be no rush, even though the decision maker may want to move things on, it doesn’t need to be at speed. It is more likely that you will be able to reach an agreement and resolve matters without the involvement of court proceedings if there is time for you to process the situation and have time to take advice.

It is sensible to seek emotional support, either from family or a trusted professional to help you to come to terms with a decision that you have not been involved in. Once you feel able to take on board information, it is sensible to meet with a family solicitor to get advice and allow you to make an informed decision about next steps. It is advisable to take a third party with you, for support and to help you remember some of the advice given and some of the facts that the solicitor will need to know.

It can be made clear to the other spouse that you want to deal with things amicably but that you need not to be rushed. Communication through solicitors is key at the early stages so that next steps are agreed and both parties feel they are involved in the process, even if it’s not one they want.

Even though direct communication will be difficult, particularly because of the feelings of shock and hurt, it is more likely to ensure that both parties feel they are making decisions. Such communication is likely to be more beneficial if it is supported by a professional, either through mediation or the collaborative process. One party and usually the non-decision maker may not know as much about the finances as the decision maker, it is important that they are given that information so that they can make an informed decision that they can live with. Mediation and collaborative law allow both parties to discuss directly the financial disclosure and raise questions to the other person, which whilst difficult initially is more likely to be beneficial.

Although an emotional and distressing situation, it can be made much more bearable by taking advice and being able to make informed decisions.

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