How to Tell People You Are Getting Divorced

Couple planning to divorce

Letting your family and friends know that you're getting a divorce can be very painful, but it's best to get the news out in the open once your plans are definite. Telling your children is the most difficult of all. Once you accomplish that, it's time to decide who else needs to know and exactly how you'll break the news.

Telling Family Members You're Getting Divorced

After you tell your children about your plans to divorce, the rest of your family should be the next people to know what's happening. It's usually best to let your parents know first, and then move on to siblings and other family members next. It's not necessary to let distant relatives know if they're not part of your daily life. There will probably be opportunities to let them know later on if other family members haven't already passed the news on for you.

Your Parents

Telling your parents, as well as your spouse's parents, can cause a lot of emotional upheaval for everyone involved. Try to remain as collected as you can so you can deliver the message calmly, and try to avoid giving too many details or laying blame on anyone for the situation.

You might choose to say something like:

Mom and Dad, I want you to sit down because I have some sad news to share with you. Things haven't been good in my marriage for some time now, and we just don't seem to be able to fix our problems and move forward. After a lot of soul searching, we've decided we need to divorce.

I know this news is probably a shock, and I know you're going to need time to work through your own feelings about what's happening. I really love you, and I just hope I can count on your emotional support because I'm really going to need it.

Other Family Members

Telling the rest of your family may be slightly easier because they are usually a little less invested in your marriage, even if they are fond of your spouse.

You might choose to tell them:

I have some sad news, and I want you to hear it from me first. _____ and I are getting a divorce. We didn't decide to do this lightly and I don't want to shut you out, but I'm not ready to talk about the details right now. I just wanted to let you know myself before you heard it from my/our parents.

Telling Friends

Breaking the news to a sympathetic friend

Telling your friends can be almost as overwhelming as telling your family, especially if they are also good friends with your spouse. Try to be as diplomatic as possible so they don't automatically feel like they have to choose sides.

Closest Friends

Your closest friends deserve a little more information than do other friends you aren't as close to.

You might choose say:

You know your friendship means the world to me, so I wanted to let you know about something very important that's happening in my life. _____ and I are getting a divorce. It's been a while in the making, but we really can't go on together any longer. I'm sure you have an idea about some of the reasons for the divorce since we're very close and I confide in you a lot, so I know you'll understand if I don't want to talk about the details right now. I'll try to talk more about it later once I've had some time to get used to the idea myself.

Casual Friends

You may want to let other friends know what's happening so they don't accidentally ask how your spouse is doing and put you in the awkward position of having to explain the situation.

There's no need to offer details. Just be up front and say something simple like:

I just wanted to let you know that _____ and I are getting a divorce. I hope you'll respect our privacy and feel free to remain friends with both of us.

Telling Your Employer and Co-Workers

It's usually best to keep your personal life as personal as possible when it comes to the workplace. Only offer the minimal amount of details that you have to, and keep the rest to yourself to avoid office speculation and gossip that might affect your career.

Wondering what to say to co-workers

Your Boss

This is one person who may need to know about your divorce because proceedings may affect your work schedule. You may also want to change your withholding information for tax purposes.

You might choose to say something like:

I just wanted you to be aware that I am getting a divorce. I'll try to make sure it affects my work as little as possible, but I may need some time off here and there to deal with the legalities. I'll do my best to work around my normal work schedule as much as I possibly can, and I hope we can keep this information just between us if that's at all possible.

Co-Workers

It may actually be in your best interest to tell your co-workers nothing, especially if you don't normally have contact with them in your personal life.

If word gets out and they inquire, simply say:

Yes, what you've heard is true. I hope I can count on you to respect my privacy and not gossip about my personal life with the rest of our co-workers.

Telling Other Important People in Your Child's Life

It's important to let other key adults in your child's life know what's happening so they understand if your child's behavior suddenly changes. Knowing about the divorce may help them deal with any problem behaviors in a more positive way that supports rather than punishes your child during this very difficult time.

Teachers

Getting a divorce can affect your child's classroom behavior, as well as his/her grades. It's wise to let each of your child's teachers know what's going on ahead of time.

Tell each teacher:

I have some important news to I need to pass on to you. My spouse and I are divorcing, so you may notice some changes in my child's behavior. Please try to be patient with him/her, and let me know as soon as possible if any problems arise. I'll do my best to help you address them and keep _____ on the right track.

Pediatricians and Counselors

Mother and daughter with a counselor

Sometimes children have an especially difficult time adjusting to a divorce, and a trip to your pediatrician or a counselor may be in order. Keep that initial conversation to the point, and these professionals will let you know if they truly need more details in order to help your child through the adjustment period.

Just tell the professional:

I'd like to make an appointment for you to see my child. My spouse and I are divorcing, and _____ is having difficulty adjusting to the situation. I just want to make sure he/she is going to be all right.

Sitters

Your child's sitter deserves to know a major change is coming to your household, especially if there are any special custody arrangements.

Tell the sitter:

I think it's important for you to know that my spouse and I are getting a divorce. If you find that _____ misbehaves more or acts more needy than usual, that may be the reason why. I hope you'll be as patient as possible, and please let me know if you run into any difficulties. I'll let you know about any custody arrangements that might affect your employment with us.

Be Prepared for Questions

Many of the people you tell about your impending divorce will simply accept what you have to say and politely refrain from prying deeper. Others may try to get you to give more details about your marital problems, whether they're just concerned, curious, or wondering what they should or shouldn't do. It's up to you just how much information you want to give anyone, and close relatives and friends usually deserve more details than acquaintances and co-workers. Use some discretion, and try to show respect for your spouse in order to keep the divorce from becoming more difficult than it has to be.

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How to Tell People You Are Getting Divorced