You have decided to get a divorce and hope to work it out peacefully. How can you prepare for talking to your spouse about an amicable divorce?
1. Educate yourself about the options. You can do your own divorce but often people need professional help to avoid problems. Mediation and Collaborative Practice are two methods where you and the professionals commit to working it out without going to court. Learn more about these methods and whether they are a good fit for you. One good resource is a monthly program in California, “Divorce Options” which describes the different options and some basic information about divorce: http://cpcal.org/DivorceOptions.aspx . In Sonoma County, Divorce Options workshops are held on the second Saturday of each month at the Collaborative Practice Center. The legal self-help publisher Nolo Press has an excellent book, “Divorce Without Court” which provides useful information http://www.nolo.com/products/divorce-without-court-dwct.html. You can also meet with a divorce professional to learn about how these options might work for your particular situation.
2. Choose carefully how to start the conversation with your spouse. The way you initiate the conversation about your divorce is a signal to your spouse about your actual intent to work together. Catching her on the fly as she is leaving for work is not a good plan! Ask your spouse when she can have an important discussion and be willing to listen to her preferences. Agree in advance on how long each of you will set aside so you won’t have to end abruptly. Decide on a location where you both feel safe and won’t be interrupted.
3. Tailor the conversation to you and your spouse’s needs. Think about how each of you makes decisions. Starting an amicable divorce is a decision you and your spouse will make together. How does your spouse like to make decisions? Does he like to do his own research? Pass on some of the links to resources you found and let him explore from there. Does he like to read information someone has compiled for him? Print out chapters from books you have read or articles you find about divorce options. Would he be more open if he suggested how to divorce? Ask him how he would like to do it before you make your own suggestion. Be willing to listen to his concerns and be willing to express your own concerns in a constructive way. At the end of the conversation, describe what you believe the two of you have agreed upon and see if he agrees. Express your appreciation for the willingness to work together and your hope and intentions for the process.