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It’s Time to Get a Divorce: Now What?

Divorce is tough, but getting ready and having friends to help can make it easier. Learn what you can, lean on supportive friends and take care of yourself. Things will get better, and there's hope for a happier life after divorce.

Divorce, although common, is still a daunting topic for many. It’s not just about ending a marriage; it involves numerous emotional, financial, and personal changes. If you’re contemplating or sure about getting a divorce, here’s your comprehensive guide to navigating through this life transition.

Steps of Getting a Divorce

Divorce can be a complex and emotional process. But, understanding the basic steps can help alleviate some confusion. Let’s break it down in plain language.

  1. Self-reflection: Before jumping in, ask yourself if this is what you truly want. Sometimes, counseling or mediation might help in resolving issues.
  2. Legal advice: It’s a good idea to consult with a lawyer. Even if you plan to proceed without one, initial legal advice can clarify your rights and obligations.
  3. File a petition: The person asking for the divorce (the petitioner) files a divorce petition at the local court. This document states why they want a divorce and how they’d like to settle finances, property, and child custody.
  4. Notify your spouse: Once the petition is filed, your spouse (the respondent) is served with divorce papers. They’ll have a certain amount of time to respond.
  5. Response: The respondent can agree or disagree with the petition. If they disagree, reasons should be given.
  6. Negotiate: If there are disagreements, both parties will attempt to negotiate. This might involve lawyers or mediators.
  7. Attend court: If no agreement can be reached, the case goes to court. A judge will make decisions on outstanding issues.
  8. Finalize the divorce: Once all issues are settled, the court issues a decree absolute. This is the final step and means your marriage is officially ended.


Remember, every divorce is unique. Some are straightforward, while others can be complicated, especially when kids or significant assets are involved. Always ensure you’re well-informed and consider seeking legal advice to understand your situation better.

Telling Your Spouse You Want a Divorce

Talking about divorce is a topic most couples never want to broach. It’s hard, emotionally charged, and deeply personal. However, if you’ve reached the point where you feel divorce is the right step for you, it’s crucial to approach the conversation with care, understanding, and simplicity. Here’s a plain-language guide to help you navigate this challenging topic.

Selecting the right setting is the first step. Avoid discussing it in the heat of an argument or when emotions are running high. Instead, pick a quiet, private time when you both can speak openly. It’s not just about finding a comfortable physical space; it’s also about choosing a moment when both of you are mentally present.

Honesty is essential, but so is compassion. Use “I” statements, like “I feel” or “I need,” instead of laying blame. This isn’t about pointing fingers, but rather explaining your feelings and why you’ve come to this decision.

Expect a range of emotions. Your spouse may be surprised, sad, angry, or even understanding. Be prepared for any reaction, and remember that their feelings are valid too.

Lastly, don’t hesitate to suggest counseling or professional guidance. Sometimes, an impartial third party can help you both navigate the conversation and the decisions that follow.

Ending a marriage isn’t easy, but approaching the conversation with kindness, patience, and clarity can make the process smoother for both parties involved.

What to Do If You Don’t Know How to Tell Your Spouse

  1. Write Down Your Feelings: Sometimes, penning your emotions can provide clarity.
  2. Seek Counseling: Consider marriage or individual therapy. It can be an intermediary step before making final decisions.
  3. Connect with Others: The Divorce Plus Community is a space where you can connect with others in similar situations, gain insights, and find support.
  4. Hire a Divorce Life Coach: Coaches from Divorce Life Coaching can equip you with tools and strategies to handle difficult conversations.


Stages of Getting a Divorce

  1. Denial: It’s common to feel disbelief or hope that things might change.
  2. Anger: Resentment can build up against your partner or even yourself.
  3. Bargaining: You might try to negotiate ways to save the marriage.
  4. Depression: The weight of the situation might bring bouts of sadness.
  5. Acceptance: Over time, you’ll start coming to terms with the decision and planning for the future. Engaging in self-care through resources like Fitness & Nutrition can help during this phase.


What is the most difficult stage of divorce? Each person’s journey is unique. However, many find the bargaining and depression stages particularly challenging. The weight of making a life-altering decision coupled with the looming changes can be overwhelming.

How do you know when to divorce? It’s a deeply personal decision. However, consistent feelings of unhappiness, unresolved conflicts, or living like roommates can be signs that the marriage is no longer sustainable.

At what stage of marriage do most divorces occur? While divorce can happen at any stage, studies indicate that the 7-year mark, often referred to as the “seven-year itch,” is a common time. But remember, every relationship is different.

How long do the stages of divorce last? Going through a divorce is like going through grief, and everyone handles it differently. Some people might stay sad for a long time, while others might move on quickly. Getting help and talking to someone or joining a group, can make it easier to cope.

Remember, divorce is tough, but getting ready and having friends to help can make it easier. Learn what you can, lean on supportive friends or groups like the Divorce Plus Community, and take care of yourself. Things will get better, and there’s hope for a happier life after the divorce.

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