Thinking about getting a divorce but not sure where to start? Read on for some top tips on how to break up with someone, the divorce process, and moving on from your marriage.
Ending a relationship, particularly when you’re married, is not something that anyone looks forward to. If you’re thinking of doing so, then you’ll most likely be making one of the toughest decisions of your life. For some people, it can take months or even years to reach the decision to start the divorce process.
You’ll likely have a lot of anxiety about what the future holds - Peters and May blog has some great advice to help you with this. Not only do you have to worry about breaking the news to your partner, but there are lots of practicalities to think about. This includes applying for divorce, dividing your assets, as well as financial arrangements for children.
So, if you’re considering ending your relationship with your marriage partner, we’ve got some advice on things you can try before going down the divorce route. We’ll also provide some top tips on how to break up with someone, and some divorce legal advice to help you out along the way.
Questions to ask yourself before you begin the divorce process
The decision to end your marriage is not one to be taken lightly and starting the process of separating is not a welcoming prospect. Before you start filling in the divorce papers, there are a few questions you can ask yourself, to be sure that splitting up is definitely the only solution to your relationship troubles.
What made you fall in love with your spouse in the first place?
Sometimes, looking back at the past can help you move forward. Some couples find it helpful to reflect on the things that brought them together and why they fell in love with each other in the first place. You may find, upon reflection, that there are things you can do to rekindle your relationship before you call it quits.
Can we try counselling?
Many people are hesitant about seeking marriage counselling, assuming that their partner won’t want to participate or that it won’t work. The best thing to do is to seek a therapist who is highly qualified in this area, with a wealth of experience counselling married couples. This is one of the most important decisions of your life, so there is no harm in trying this first.
What impact will a divorce have on our children?
If your children are still young enough to live at home, then a divorce can cause lots of upheaval and have a massive impact on their lives. They may have to move home, or have a parent leave the family home.
Children tend to flourish emotionally when both parents are present and living in the family home, so consider whether your problems with your spouse can be fixed for the sake of your children. However, if you constantly argue with your spouse, or are frequently unhappy, then it might not be the best thing to stay together in the long run for your children.
What impact will a divorce have on my finances and lifestyle?
Going through a divorce will have a dramatic impact on your finances. Not only will you have to pay for divorce proceedings, but your assets will be divided between you and your spouse. You may even need to look for a new home, a new car and replace many household items.
You may also be used to a certain lifestyle while married, that you need to seriously consider whether you can sacrifice if you divorce. Listing your expenses and creating a budget for the worst-case scenario can help you decide how well you would cope on a reduced household income.
Do I feel safe?
One of the most important factors in a marriage is to feel safe, both physically and emotionally. If you don’t feel safe, then that is a situation that you need to leave immediately. Charities like Refuge, Women’s Aid and ManKind can help you to escape a domestic abuse situation. If you feel that you are in immediate danger, always call 999.
The Ultimate Conclusion…
When you’re asking yourself these questions, it’s important not to dwell too long. Dragging out the process will only make it more painful for you and your partner. However uncomfortable the reality may seem, you really only have three choices:
Stay with your partner and don’t change anything;
Identify the problems in your marriage and try to work through them with your partner;
End the relationship and apply for a divorce.
6 top tips on how to break up with someone you’re married to
Break-ups are hard, especially when you’re married and have invested a lot in your relationship. So, here are some things you can do to make the process a little easier for you and your spouse…
Plan Out Your Conversation
You know that the conversation is going to be a stressful and emotional one, so planning what you want to say in advance can help you to control your emotions. Writing down your thoughts can help make sense of them and help you to deliver your message clearly. Try to keep your message direct and honest, but with compassion, and avoid making accusations.
Put Yourself in Your Partner’s Shoes
We’ve all been through break ups in the past, so try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and think about how you’d feel if things were the other way around. Despite the things that have happened that have put an end to your relationship, your partner still deserves respect and dignity.
It’s important that you break up with your partner face to face and in a private location. Public locations can be too distracting, and your partner might feel uncomfortable displaying emotion with other people around. Try to choose somewhere, where you or your partner can leave at any time.
If you’re concerned that your partner may react with anger or violence, then of course, choose somewhere public and make sure that a friend knows where you are or even stays close by.
Be Prepared for Different Reactions
There is no way for you to know how your partner will react to the breakup, but you should prepare yourself for different reactions.
They may respond with anger, which is common, and you should acknowledge that they have a right to feel angry. However, it’s important that the situation doesn’t get out of hand, so keep your voice low and calm and don’t rise to their anger. As mentioned above, if the anger turns towards threats or violence, then end the conversation immediately and leave.
They may become emotional and try to dissuade your from breaking up with them. Again, let them know that them being sad is ok, but that you have carefully considered this breakup and you feel that it is the right thing to do for you both. The key is to listen to what they have to say, and empathise, but don’t let the conversation get side-tracked.
Use ‘I’ not ‘You’
A good way of easing tension and hostility is to use statements with ‘I’ instead of ‘you’. It is your decision to break up, so you should take responsibility for your feelings and not be critical of your partner. Using ‘you’ in statements can leave your partner feeling like they are to blame for everything and can leave them feeling angry. In the long run, it’s important to maintain a good relationship with your partner to avoid any unwanted conflict during divorce.
Whilst you might want to ‘be there’ for your partner and try to soften the blow, it’s important that you’re direct and honest. This way, your partner should understand that there is no possibility of you getting back together.
Your partner might want to know the reasons for the break up in an attempt to try to fix them. However, if there is no way that you are getting back together, then going through all the details of what went wrong will only prolong the unhappiness for you and your partner and will ultimately make no difference to the outcome.
Remember, It’s Okay to Want to Break Up
Your feelings are just as valid as your partners, so remember it’s ok to want to break up if that’s what’s best for you. There is nothing wrong with it. Ultimately, the emotions you feel now will fade over time, but be sure to take care of yourself now, through some self-care activities, to help you through.
How the Divorce Process Works
Before divorce proceedings begin, it is recommended that you seek legal advice from a divorce solicitor. They will be able to guide you through the process, and may specialise in collaborative law, focusing on finding the best outcome for both you and your partner, without the need for conflict and court involvement.
In order to apply for divorce, you must have been married for at least one year and prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down for one of the following reasons:
You have lived separately from your spouse for two years, and have written permission from your spouse
You have lived separately from your spouse for five years, without requiring permission from your spouse
When applying for a divorce, you must pay £550 in court fees. If you use a lawyer, you will have to pay their fees on top of this.
Under the current law, one spouse must petition the other for divorce, which is often where conflicts arise when blame has to be placed. It might be beneficial to agree with your partner which reason you will use before lodging your petition, so they know what to expect.
Once the petition has been sent, and your spouse receives the paperwork, they must fill in the form and send it back to the court to formally ‘accept’ the divorce. Once the court is happy with the reasons provided in your divorce papers, they will issue a decree nisi. This means that your divorce is in the conditional stage and you must wait six weeks before applying for a decree absolute.
A decree absolute will officially end your marriage and can be applied for once six weeks has passed since your decree nisi was issued. Unless your partner contests the divorce (this is rare), then it will usually take between four and six months to be finalised. Sometimes this takes longer in high-value divorce cases and when children are involved.
Breaking up on good terms
Going through a breakup is challenging, particularly when you have been married for a long time and there are a lot of practical arrangements to be made. Ultimately, it is important to remain on good terms with your ex-partner, particularly when children are involved and you have to co-parent. So, we hope our tips and advice will help you to do just that.
Have you been through the divorce process recently? Got any great tips on how to break up with someone, but still maintain a good relationship? Let us know in the comments down below.