Should you tell your spouse before you file for divorce?

People often don’t realize how unhappy their spouse is about their marriage until they get served with divorce paperwork. Regardless of how strained your relationship with your spouse has become, you may not particularly relish the thought of blindsiding them with a divorce filing.

It may seem like a better option to sit down and discuss the decision before you file. However, while your intentions may be noble, depending on your circumstances, telling your spouse before you file might put you at a disadvantage.

How does your spouse react when angry or under stress?

Divorce can be a difficult time that can bring out the worst in people. Imagine the worst behavior you have seen your spouse engage in during the course of your marriage. Recalling a time with an unfortunate surprise or a disappointment can give you an idea of how they might react to the news of a divorce.

People who are often kind or rational can become angry aggressive and self-destructive during a divorce. If you think there’s a possibility that your ex might destroy or hide financial records, intentionally get rid of marital property or otherwise act out when you bring up divorce, you may want to hold off on a pre-emptive warning.

Do you think there’s a chance for an uncontested filing?

If your spouse typically handles bad news with grace and if you think your relationship has reached a point where your decision won’t surprise them, talking with them before you file for divorce could potentially benefit you both.

Provided that no one engages in attempts to hide assets or manipulate the process, you and your attorneys could potentially work together to set terms for an uncontested filing.

Has there been a history of emotional or physical abuse in your relationship?

If your spouse has ever become violent or threatening toward you, you may not want to try to broach the topic of divorce on your own. In fact, you may want to take steps to protect yourself before you serve your spouse. Even if your spouse has never laid hands on you, if they have been emotionally abusive in the past, that could accelerate into physical abuse when they realize you intend to leave the marriage.

Before you decide about whether to talk to your spouse first, you probably want to talk to an attorney about your situation. Your divorce lawyer can give you good advice about whether your situation justifies serving your spouse without forewarning or talking about things first.