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Prepare before asking for a divorce

Having a spouse tell you that he or she wants a divorce can be heart breaking. However, being on the other side of that conversation is difficult as well.

Approaching the discussion with empathy for your spouse can set the tone for the divorce, so you need to prepare. Family law attorneys, psychologists and other divorce experts have some suggestions for how to handle this life-altering conversation.

If the two of you are already in marriage counseling, it's best to approach the topic during a session. That way, you'll have a professional, neutral person there who can help you deal with any feelings that emerge.

If you're doing it on your own, choosing the right time and place is key. Don't wait until you're in the middle of an argument. You want your spouse to understand that you've given this plenty of thought and that you're not just reacting to something he or she said or did.

Make sure that the children aren't in the house and that your phones are turned off. It's also best to have the discussion during the day when you have more time to talk and you're less tired.

What you say is key. Try not to blame your spouse, even if there's plenty to blame him or her for. Let your spouse know how you feel. Try to use "I" rather than "you." Own up to your role in the problems. In nearly every case, both spouses play a role in the marriage not working out.

In some cases, it may be necessary to deliver the news in writing. If you choose to write a letter, either because you're concerned about your spouse's reaction or he or she simply isn't around, it's best to have your family law attorney help you write it or at least review it. As with a face-to-face discussion, you still want the tone to be non-confrontational.

No matter how you break the news to your spouse, it's best to do some preparation ahead of time. Spouses have been known to empty out bank accounts and take other steps that can leave the person asking for the divorce with no money or other resources. Talk with your family law attorney to determine what you can and should do to protect your assets and yourself before taking this step.

Source: Huffington Post, "How To Ask Your Spouse For A Divorce, According To Experts," Brittany Wong, Nov. 25, 2015

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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