What Are The First Steps To Take When Your Spouse Asks For A Divorce?

a man sitting on a couch with their head in their hands

Hearing the words, “I want a divorce,” from your spouse can be one of the most unsettling experiences in life. Shock, disbelief, and a flood of emotions may overwhelm you. It doesn’t mean that the divorce will happen. Sometimes, your partner might not be sure about their decision, so reconciliation is possible. However, you must prepare for all possibilities and one of them is divorce, which we’ll talk about in this blog. 

Here are 6 steps to take when your spouse asks for a divorce: 

1. Take a Deep Breath and Stay Calm

Your immediate reaction may involve panic or anger, but you must stay calm. Remember, reacting emotionally can escalate tensions and complicate the process. Collect your thoughts and approach the situation with a clear mind. 

It is normal to feel different kinds of emotions but it isn’t necessary to act on every single one of them. Whether it’s sadness, anger, or confusion, find ways to overcome them. Your friends and family are there to support you, all you have to do is reach out to them.

2. Educate Yourself on the Divorce Process

Research the divorce laws in your province or territory and draw out a plan. Know what your rights and obligations are. Consult with an experienced family lawyer to get a clear picture of what to expect. They will also help you understand potential outcomes depending on the route you choose. 

3. Insist on Counselling 

Counselling provides a safe space to address underlying issues, improve communication, and explore potential solutions. Often, issues leading to a divorce request are complex and layered. Through guided discussions, you can learn to express your thoughts and feelings more clearly and listen to your spouse without judgement. 

Counselling is not just about saving a marriage; it is also a chance to figure out your relationship’s strengths and weaknesses. Do not discuss issues outside your counsellor’s office and if needed, live separately for a while to really know if you want to stop the divorce or proceed with it. 

calculator and cash kept on the table with pen and post it notes

4. Organise Your Finances 

Gather and organise all relevant financial documents, including bank statements, tax returns, property deeds, and records of debts and assets. It will make the division of assets and alimony process faster and reduce the back and forth. 

5. Consider Mediation or Collaborative Divorce

Not all divorces need a court hearing. If your spouse and you want to separate on good terms, especially for the kids, mediation or collaborative divorce might be a good idea. It is also more cost-effective and faster as court hearings are scheduled 3-4 months in advance and can get postponed even more. These methods involve working with your spouse and a neutral mediator or collaborative team to reach a mutually agreeable settlement. 

6. Focus on Your Children

When parents divorce, a lot of times children blame themselves for it. Reassure them that the separation isn’t because of them and you love them just as much. Minimise disruptions to their daily routine. If you or your spouse plans to move out, you’ll need to create a co-parenting document. Both spouses will need to hire family lawyers separately. 

It ensures that both parents remain actively involved in their children’s lives, promoting consistency and stability. The plan covers various aspects of child-rearing, including living arrangements, education, healthcare, and extracurricular activities.

At Sterling Law, your peace of mind and future are our top priorities. Book a free consultation today (up to 15 minutes only).

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