How to leave your husband or wife

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Leaving a marriage can be heart-wrenching. This post highlights the pros and cons of divorce, and factors to consider when deciding to leave a marriage: Should I get divorced?

How to leave your husband or wife

If you have already explored these feelings deeply — and are not just pissed off in the moment — call a divorce attorney. Many will provide a free phone consultation, and give you a snapshot of what you can expect your life to look like post-divorce in terms of money and child time-sharing. They will also give you a sense of what your divorce options are — and whether this will be a quick, low-conflict process, or how much stress and expense you may spend to get what you want.

Many people change their minds or strategy after these calls (you can speak to more than one attorney, too — which is a good idea).

Step-by-step guide to divorce, terms and processes

What to ask for in divorce

Complete guide to divorce papers

The vast majority of couples have an uncontested, amicable and no-fault divorce, which is good news: You likely can divorce affordably and quickly by filing your own divorce papers. Find divorce papers in your state now:

AlabamaAlaska
ArizonaArkansas
CaliforniaColorado
ConnecticutDelaware
District of ColumbiaFlorida
GeorgiaHawaii
IdahoIllinois
IndianaIowa
KansasKentucky
LouisianaMaine
MarylandMassachusetts
MichiganMinnesota
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MontanaNebraska
NevadaNew Hampshire
New JerseyNew Mexico
New YorkNorth Carolina
North DakotaOhio
OklahomaOregon
PennsylvaniaRhode Island
South CarolinaSouth Dakota
TennesseeTexas
UtahVermont
VirginiaWashington
West VirginiaWisconsin
Wyoming

An online divorce platform can be a great investment. Our No. 1 recommendation is 3 Step Divorce, one of the most established online divorce companies, with an A+ Better Business Bureau rating and payment plans that let you get started filing for divorce online for $84. Get started with 3StepDivorce now, and qualify for a $50 rebate >>

Read our 3StepDivorce review.

Prepare for divorce — How do I prepare to leave my husband or wife?

Whether you are initiating the breakup, have been served divorce papers, worried your husband or wife is ready to file for divorce, or have mutually agreed to a separation, it is important to prepare yourself mentally and financially.

Financially, be sure to keep an eye on your credit score, shore up cash in accounts in your own name, manage your debt, find a budget on which you can live on one income, and build your career.

The vast majority, an estimated 90% of divorces, are settled outside of a court. Often couples work with their own attorneys, sometimes for months, to hash out the details of custody, dividing assets, any ongoing payments like alimony and child support, and more. You can save tens of thousands of dollars by working out these details without attorneys, or with the help of a single, low-cost mediator. There are lots of free online resources, including this free divorce settlement agreement template.

You can While the world tells you that single motherhood is the worst thing that can happen to women, many of us find it liberating and empowering — whether for a short time or the rest of our lives. Read more about my experience, as well as dozens of other single moms in 31 reasons single motherhood is AWESOME.

Part of this experience is the ability to date in new and exciting ways — and have sex with any other consenting adult!

Moms also report the freedom that comes with purging and selling old items (his ugly-ass furniture, sell the engagement ring for $$,) decorating and owning a home all of your own, and keeping your house as tidy or messy as you like.

Also, start preparing yourself for what it will look like to co-parent with your soon-to-be-ex. Starting off the divorce process with integrity, a sense of fairness and peace establishes a precedent for positive, healthy co-parenting for the rest of your life — which is good for all parties involved.

How to divorce like a feminist

One of the first co-parenting apps, and widely used app, OurFamilyWizard, which features chat, information storage (like pediatrician and teacher contact info, prescriptions, etc.), and financial record-keeping. 30-day free trial,  discounts for military families, and a program to provide OurFamilyWizard free to low-income families. Each parent can add unlimited numbers of other people for free, including children, grandparents, step and bonus parents, as well as attorneys.

Try OurFamilyWizard for free for 30 days now >>

Read OurFamilyWizard review on Wealthysinglemommy.com >>

Thinking about leaving your husband or wife?

One of the most important tools you have at your disposal when going through a divorce is your support network. Perhaps this is a fantastic group of friends and family, a support group, therapist or another resource, you need people who get and love you — and are positive and productive.

My closed Facebook group Millionaire Single Moms understands what you are going through and will be a great sounding board and source of advice. Divorce is consistently ranked as one of the most stressful life events, but remember that it is passing, and life will get better (and then likely get worse at some point, but that is for another blog post!).

From my popular post, After divorce, you get a one-year pass to be a hot mess:

You get a year. A free pass for 12 months to be a freaky weirdo. Drink too much after the kids go to bed. Smoke a few cigarettes at break time with your colleagues. Let the house go, let the dishes pile up in the sink. Hell, might as well preemptively cancel the gym memberships, because you’re not going. Be stinky and oily, and let your pubes hang out of your swimsuit on a public beach in the Midwest. Sleep with a bunch of completely inappropriate people and wear things that no one at your age with your body should ever even think about wearing in public. Stay up all night stalking your college boyfriend on Facebook.

How to prepare: What should I do before filing for divorce?

The basics of preparing for a divorce:

  1. Shore up your finances: Get your own bank account, credit card, and make sure your car is in your own name. That said, don’t try to do anything sneaky — it will catch up with you.
  2. Get an idea of what kind of money you will have after divorce, and what you can afford. DO NOT blow any sum of extra cash right now. Save and live frugally.
  3. Consult with an attorney. Assuming this will be a low-conflict divorce, pay for some solid advice about the basics of an amicable divorce in your area. You can do much of this research yourself: Start with this Guide to the basics of filing for divorce.
  4. Shore up your emotional resources. Find a therapist for yourself and your kids, and tell your closest family and friends that you could use their love at this time.

How do you secretly prepare for a divorce?

Secretly getting ready to divorce is not always about conniving, cheating jerks. It can also be a matter of safety — or life.

What to do when your husband or wife says they're done

How should a woman prepare for a divorce?

This story is from New York City divorce attorney Morghan Richardson:

“I know an amazing mother of four children.  She is on her second marriage and this time, the marriage is extremely successful.  She and her caring, supportive husband are both school teachers.  They have two-year-old twins and a house with – literally – a white-picket fence around it.  It wasn’t always this way.

I’ll call this woman Anne.

Anne’s ex-husband was an obsessive, controlling and verbally abusive police officer. He drank. He cheated. And when Anne protested, he threatened to use his job to take custody of their preschool-aged kids and make her life a living hell. He also threatened to use his position as the sole bread-winner to hire the best lawyer and steam-roll over her in court. Yet, rather than feeling trapped and overwhelmed, Anne seized control of the situation – by taking control of her finances.

But not in the way you might think.

This woman didn’t earn the family’s income or even oversee much of the bill payment. Yet for three years she took charge: Unbeknownst to her husband, Anne set up a savings account and had the bank send the statements to a trusted friend. Then she budgeted everything: She figured out how to trim the cost of the groceries and then pocket the difference she saved – even making excuses for needing extra milk during the week. Tiny changes like switching from brand-name to generic products generated pocket change added up. Anne got creative with white lies about losing one of the kids’ sneakers and needing to replace them, then returning the extra pair for cash.  Gifts given to the kids were returned unnoticed or exchanged for less-expensive toys – then she’d save the difference (particularly when the kids were younger and didn’t notice).

During these three years Anne also collected copies of his bank statements, tax returns and credit card bills – proving how much he earned and how much he spent on excessive drinking and other women. She collected cell phone bills and kept records of his drunken and abusive episodes.  Finally, when she’d saved about $5,000, she hired a divorce lawyer. Then – documents in hand — she dropped the divorce bomb in her husband’s lap, demanded that he move out and give her the house and the kids. She also told him that unless he got his drinking under control, she would seek supervised visits from the court. She also received his financial support until she could get a job and start earning her own living.

While the husband was trapped by his own bad behavior, Anne’s patience and perseverance set her free to make a better life for herself – and her kids.”

While that is a cautionary tale of the extreme, for most women, especially those who earn less than their husbands or are otherwise financially dependent on them, here is my advice:

  • Focus on building your career and financial independence. You may be entitled to child support or alimony, but those can disappear at any time, will create co-parenting conflict, and keep you tied to a man from whom you now must move on from.
  • Hold off on dating for a minute. No need to wait a whole year, but do yourself a favor and don’t jump into a relationship yet.

“I want a divorce.” How to ask for a divorce peacefully when you are ready to file

If you are in an abusive relationship, then plan ahead, secure a new home, and in the same day do the following:

  • Move out
  • Separate yourself from any shared banking and investment accounts
  • Have your attorney send a letter that you intend to file for divorce.

I’m scared to tell my husband I want a divorce.

It is totally normal to tell your husband or wife you want a divorce. This is what you risk:

  • Hurting your husband
  • A big fight
  • Violence
  • A divorce means you will be poorer than you are now
  • You will be lonely
  • Your kids will be hurt
  • You may lose friends and contact with loved ones
  • You may have to move from a home and community you love
  • You may feel guilty

Or, if you are in an abusive situation and afraid for your, or your children's safety, then visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 800-799-7233.

How do I tell my husband I don’t love him anymore and want a divorce?

Some people ask: How do I politely ask for a divorce?

Polite is not the goal. If your husband is a reasonable person, sit down with him, face-to-face, at home. Be kind, but straight-forward. “I appreciate these years together, but I don’t love you anymore and I want a divorce.”

Clarity is kindness!

What happens if one spouse doesn’t want a divorce? How to tell your husband you want a divorce when he doesn’t?

Again, assuming he is a reasonable person, it is important to be kind, straight-forward and honest. Don’t lend any false hope or make promises you cannot keep, like “we can still be friends,” etc. However, this is a trauma, and expect that he will be very mad, and perhaps a little crazy. Most people get at least a little unreasonable when their lives fall apart — especially if they feel they have no control over the matter.

If he doesn’t want the divorce, and he is not a reasonable or nice person, then you need to protect yourself and your kids first. Get a good lawyer, make sure you have your own money, in your own name, that he cannot access, and prepare to tap into your deepest reservoirs of strength.

“I want my husband to leave me.” How to make your husband want to leave you

There are lots of reasons why you may prefer your spouse initiateiniatie a divorce that you yourself want, or perhaps you have discussed together. These include:

  • Guilt. He’s a good guy and you have no major reason to want to divorce him, and worry that your kids and loved ones will fault you for a breakup.
  • You believe, probably erroneously, that the spouse who initiates the divorce has less leverage when it comes to money and child custody.
  • You can’t make the hard decision, so hope someone else will make it for you.

How can I get my husband to want a divorce?

Lots of ways to get a lover to leave you, or at least agree to a divorce, and here are a few that may be effective. However, I do not endorse any of them, as these are manipulative, self-destructive and otherwise just a bad idea:

  • Withdraw emotionally
  • Withdraw sexually
  • Stop talking and sharing
  • Become a bitch, or otherwise someone he does not like or want to be around
  • Focus on what is important to him and sabotage that. If your looks are a big part of his feelings for you, stop paying attention to your appearance and weight.

If he is having a hard time accepting a divorce, and you want him to get on board for the sake of an uncontested divorce and healthy co-parenting, try these:

  • Make it very clear that you are not interested in staying married and are ready to move on. Leave no room for negotiation or reconciliation.
  • If you are still having sex, stop.
  • Men are often rightfully terrified of getting screwed over in divorce. Make it clear to him that you are committed to 50/50 equally shared parenting, and you have no intention of seeking child support or alimony that would make his life hell.
  • Move out.
  • Sit him down with divorce papers and initiate negotiating a divorce. Here is our list of top online divorce paper companies.

Why doesn’t my husband want a divorce?

Lots of reasons are possible:

  • He still loves you and believes your challenges are surmountable.
  • He is afraid that a divorce will mean he rarely gets to see his kids, or that you will move them far away.
  • He is afraid that a divorce will mean unaffordable child support or alimony payments that will make his life hell.
  • He is religious and does not believe in divorce.
  • He’s insecure or narcissistic and hates the thought of you being romantic with someone else.
  • He is afraid of disappointing friends, family and community.
  • He is afraid of being lonely.

When should I leave my husband or wife?

If you are in an abusive situation, you must strategize about leaving safely. Otherwise, find a time that is kind, not on any holidays or birthdays, when you can calmly and thoughtfully tell your spouse that the marriage is over.

Who gets to call themselves a ‘single mom'?

Wealthysinglemommy.com founder Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist, author and expert. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, Elle, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker," her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. As an expert on divorce and gender, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality and multiple state legislature hearings. More about Emma's credentials.

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