How to Ask for a Divorce

Request a divorce

One of the most common issues in the minds of people considering a breakup is: How to ask for a divorce. Despite unhappiness and a desire to start fresh, most people want to avoid both making a scene and hurting the other spouse. Learning how to slice through the emotional confusion surrounding the end of a relationship can help when it's time to tell your spouse you'd like to get a divorce.

Soul Searching

Before trying to figure out how to ask for a divorce, make sure you really want one. Spend some time getting to know the real reasons you want a divorce as well as trying to predict the other party's response. By carefully considering your own goals while remaining thoughtful about your spouse, you'll be better equipped to decide if marriage termination will help solve your problems.

Interrogate Yourself

One way to examine your motivations is by asking yourself questions like those in the following list. Your answers are critical clues that can help you decide if your marriage is really over or just in need of some TLC.

  1. Do you still have feelings of love or strong affection for your spouse? - If love remains, it's usually beneficial to seek counseling before terminating the marriage.
  2. Will a divorce honestly meet your needs or is a definitive change in your relationship what you truly seek? - Occasionally, both parties can alter the foundation and value of their marriage based on an honest exchange of thoughts. Many times, this can lead to an improved relationship and mutual contentment.
  3. What has changed to make you want to end the relationship? - Determining the level of significance regarding changes in feelings and behaviors can help you decide on your next step.
  4. What are your strongest motivations and what specific needs will a divorce meet? - Examine your inner thoughts to get to the bottom of your desire. Make a list of the ways in which your life will significantly improve after divorce. If you can't come up with anything, you might not need to ask for divorce.
  5. Do you seek divorce based on an emotional response to an important act or event that your spouse has or has not done? - Answering this question honestly can help you figure out whether you're subconsciously seeking revenge or lashing out over something your spouse has done to hurt you.
  6. Have you fully considered the fallout, both positive and negative, that accompanies divorce? - Think about how all aspects of your life after divorce may change before you take the final step.

Basic Tips on How to Ask for a Divorce

If divorce remains your goal after your question and answer session, the next step is to make your request. Every situation is different, every person is different, and so what works for some may fail for others. Consider what you know about your spouse and yourself in order to make your case in as kind a way as possible. The sections below can help you get started.

Don't List

  • Don't ask for a divorce in the middle of a heated argument.
  • Don't fling accusations or insults as your spouse.
  • Don't ask for a divorce in public because contrary to popular belief, it's cruel and disrespectful.
  • Don't expect your spouse to be calm about the issue.
  • Don't threaten your spouse to get what you want.
  • Don't resort to anger and desperation.
  • Don't cave in to your spouse's pleas if you really want to divorce. It only prolongs the pain and causes confusion.

Do List

  • Do choose a time when you and your spouse are relaxed and calm.
  • Do select a private location for the discussion.
  • Do speak respectfully to and about your spouse.
  • Do avoid the temptation of an "It's not you, it's me" approach.
  • Do own up to your part in the marriage's failure.
  • Do get prepared for an emotional and painful discussion.
  • Do try to be as nice as possible despite escalated emotions.

Think Outside Yourself

People who are deciding how to ask for a divorce often get lost in the anxiety of their own situation. Keeping loved ones and their emotions in mind can help ease the pain of divorce for the entire family. Don't be afraid to seek divorce support online or in your community.

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How to Ask for a Divorce