You may come to the point where you’ve decided that your relationship no longer works, problems cannot be resolved and you want to end your marriage. There are many questions about what the next step is and where to go from here. Working out these questions ahead of time with your partner can save a lot of time, expense and pain for both of you.
- Create a plan before you discuss this with your partner. Decide what ground you’re willing to give in negotiations, like who will keep the house, who will move out, how to divide the assets, etc. Thinking about these things ahead of time will help you stay focused and manage the situation better.
- Expect emotional fallout from your partner once you break the news. Presuming you know your partner extremely well, you probably have a good idea how she will react. Hopefully she will know this is coming so it won’t be a complete surprise. Still, the fact that you’ve put thought into it and created a plan can be a bit disconcerting to your partner.
- Let your partner fully digest the information (be respectful and let him take some time to process, but not too long). Then make time to sit down together and rationally discuss the dissolution plan. It is mutually beneficial to work this out in advance of hiring legal counsel, because it becomes extremely costly once lawyers get involved.
- Decide how you will both tell the children. Decide, if possible, such issues as who the children will live with, who will pay child support, how often the noncustodial parent will visit. Emphasize to the children that this is not their fault, and privately contain any disagreements between you and your partner.
- Don’t delay. The longer you delay the negotiations and making decisions about splitting up assets, the harder it becomes and the more legal consultation will be required by both sides to complete the divorce.
- Decide who will move out and make a plan, including a firm timetable, for moving out. Stick to the plan.
- Split the finances. Create a separate bank account for yourself. While the divorce is in process, you still may both need to cover shared expenses, so make a budget and both commit to cover those expenses. Missing payments on expenses at this critical time can have devastating effects on both partners’ credit that can haunt you for years afterward. Continue paying until the court terminates your financial obligations.
- Get a good attorney. Hopefully this is a (relatively) peaceful divorce, but if not, finds an attorney who will fight for your rights if needed.
- File for separation, where applicable, once you and your partner are no longer living together. Most states require that you and your partner live separately from one another (different addresses at all times) for a required period of time before the court grants a divorce. Check with your local state laws to know what applies.
- Try to get past the emotional aspect during negotiations and approach the fact that both of you are in the process of dissolving a partnership. Try to stay objective. The court will not reward or punish your partner for any emotional wrongdoing, so stay focused on the business of the breakup.