My Spouse wants a Divorce. What Should I Do?
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By: Martinette Jennifer, Esq.

“Till death do us part.”

Those are the words married couples vow to one another on their wedding day. While there aren’t any guarantees in love, married couples take a gamble by rolling the dice and hoping they win forever. But in reality, some marriages end in divorce. So, what should you do when you’re in a troubled marriage, and your spouse says, “I want a divorce”? First, and most importantly, stay calm. Some options can help save your marriage and avoid the divorce process. Let’s dive in.

Marriage is a big decision, and on the opposite side of the coin, so is divorce.

Stay calm if your partner (or you) desires to divorce. The first thing a spouse should do if they or their spouse is contemplating a separation and/or divorce is to consult with a divorce attorney right away to be sure they know their rights and learn how to protect themselves financially and legally. Next, focus on understanding how you have reached this point in the marriage. It would be best to ask questions and, more importantly, listen to why divorce is now on the table. During the discussion, couples often learn they can resolve their issues through marriage counseling or a temporary healing separation.

Divorce does not have to be the first step, but working through the problems will take total commitment from both spouses for the marriage to survive. During discussions with your spouse, be open to listening and creating a safe space for honest dialogue. Do not judge or play the blame game. The goal is to understand why you or your partner desires a divorce. Give your opinion on the marriage and allow your spouse to do the same. Through open communication regarding where you both believe the marriage stands, the topic of marriage counseling or separation may arise. Counseling or separation is a good thing!

If only one partner is willing to attend marriage counseling, do not fret. Sometimes the unwilling partner may grow to appreciate the marriage counseling if it turns out to be significantly helpful. A marriage counselor can help you two to better navigate the difficult conversations surrounding separation and divorce and even suggest activities for the two of you to undertake to repair the broken marriage. Some couples succeed in marriage counseling and can advance to a healthier marriage.

Other couples find success differently by embarking on a period of separation. The word implies that you will live apart; however, this period of separate living can drive you back together. During a break, couples have time to focus on self-care and prioritize their mental, physical, and emotional well-being. There is time for deep reflection away from the emotional tug of living in a troubled marriage. Activities such as therapy, exercise, and hobbies can help couples to release stress and tension, clear their minds, and better approach the marriage from a healed body and mind perspective.

On the flip side, separation can also help couples gain clarity and confidence in their reasons for wanting a divorce. If you or your spouse are sure that divorce is the only option, against the wishes of the other spouse, then the unwilling spouse must accept this decision and let go. Letting go of the marriage is easier said than done, but it must happen to avoid doing the following: begging, pleading, or clinging to your partner; stalking or threatening your partner; using the children as a means to keep your partner in the marriage; doing things out of spite, and bad-mouthing your partner to friends, family, and the children. None of these things will lead your partner to stay in the marriage. The opposite is true. Exhibiting this behavior will confirm your partner’s desire for the divorce and may even result in your partner being less willing to negotiate and instead wanting to get through the divorce as quickly as possible.

Once the decision to divorce is made final, each of the spouses should consult with a divorce lawyer who will advise on the next steps, such as addressing splitting bills and time split between the children, gathering and exchanging information such as financial records, hiring experts, and negotiating a settlement.

The following are three out-of-court options for resolving a divorce:

  • The Collaborative Law Process: If the couple choices the Collaborative Law Process, a marital settlement agreement will be drafted together, with input from both parties and their attorneys during four-way meetings.
  • Negotiation: Another option in resolving issues of separation and divorce is for each attorney to meet separately with their client to discuss their goals for the settlement and then meet to negotiate on behalf of their client (with or without the clients’ attendance).
  • Mediation: A third option includes mediation, where the couple meets with a mediator, a neutral party, to facilitate the settlement of issues among the couple. Remember that because the mediator is a neutral party, this individual cannot provide legal advice to the couple during the mediation. Therefore, if there are complex issues to resolve, the couple should have their attorney attend mediation or consult with their attorney both before and after mediation.

If the couple cannot resolve all issues of their separation, or if an emergency arises, such as custody issues, then filing in court may be necessary to protect each spouse’s rights.

For a marriage to work long-term, it takes two willing and committed partners. But when commitment fails, and communication breaks down, divorce may be just ahead for many married couples. Alternatives such as marriage counseling, therapy, and temporary separation can help save a marriage. But if you or your spouse are final in your decision to divorce, your next step with consultation with your attorney is deciding which option of ending the marriage is best for you. Our experienced family law attorneys at Andalman & Flynn are ready to help you. Contact us today and see what our attorneys can do to assist you with moving forward in your divorce.

About Andalman & Flynn, P.C.: Founded in 1998 in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, Andalman & Flynn has forged a distinguished reputation for legal excellence. The Firm practices family lawestate planning, and probate throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia, and represents individuals seeking disability benefits throughout the country. The Firm focuses on cases that impact the rights of everyone and is there for clients when responsive legal help is most critical. The Firm has provided legal analysis on national and local television and radio, and its attorneys often testify before legislative bodies and are routinely invited to contribute to prominent legal publications. For more information about Andalman & Flynn, please visit the website at or call 301.563.6685.