One of the hardest parts of getting a divorce – at least from an emotional perspective – is simply having the initial conversation with your partner in which you present your plans to seek a divorce. Many people wait months or years, or simply never take the steps necessary to protect their future, because they are fearful of having that first conversation. It should go without saying that divorce is not something to be taken lightly, and you should get help in a divorce from your community by talking to friends, family members, clergy, mentors, and/or therapists as you consider whether divorce is the right option. But when you do speak with your spouse about your intentions, here are few things to keep in mind.
Remember, You Don’t Have to “Ask”
In nearly every state, including California, divorces are granted by the courts on a no-fault basis, and all that needs to be shown is that one spouse does not want to continue on in the marriage. This is not a historical drama where one spouse has to grant the other one the right to leave the marriage. Thus, while it is ideal if you and your spouse can reach a civil resolution on moving towards divorce, remember that this conversation is not about convincing your spouse to grant you a divorce, as he or she does not need to do so.
Focus On Communicating Intentions, Not Rehashing Arguments
In that same vein, you are not having the conversation to win an argument about “who is right” or “who is at fault” in the marriage. You are simply telling your spouse in as calm and clear a way as possible that you have decided to seek a divorce. If your spouse does understand where you are coming from and why you feel that this is the right thing to do, great, but you do not need to convince him or her of anything by rehashing old arguments.
Don’t Worry About Sorting Out the Legal Issues in the First Conversation
As part of focusing the conversation on your intention and giving your spouse space and time to process their feelings and concerns on their own, you should not feel any obligation to either work out the legal considerations of the divorce or pressure your spouse into any type of agreement, much less make threats. You will have plenty of time to work those issues out later in a formal manner where a court can approve them (and your attorney can present any necessary arguments on your behalf), and you run the risk of antagonizing your spouse who is already in a vulnerable spot by having the conversation of legal issues at all.
Take Steps to Protect Yourself
If you are concerned about any type of physical or emotional abuse that might occur, then you should strongly consider: 1) having a third party you trust and who knows what you are going to say to help support you, such as a family member, friend, or therapist; or 2) simply not having the conversation at all and instead having your attorney serve your spouse with the papers necessary to begin the divorce process.
Talk to an Attorney Before You Have the Conversation
Talking to an experienced family law attorney in your jurisdiction before you have the conversation can provide you with many benefits, including: 1) giving you a realistic picture of your rights and obligations post-divorce, so that you can decide whether you truly want to move forward; 2) a sense of the procedures involved in obtaining the divorce; and 3) any further advice regarding talking to your spouse which is personally suited to your situation.
Legal Guidance in all Your Divorce Matters
To schedule a consultation regarding your situation and any questions you have about divorce in California, contact one of the divorce attorneys at The Law Offices of Omar Gastelum and Associates, PLC today.