Getting a divorce is a very private decision. However, sooner or later, you will need to reveal the news to close family members, friends, and an ever-broadening social circle. This can be awkward at best; trying to keep the divorce a secret, on the other hand, can end up being even more embarrassing and virtually impossible.
Once the decision is final, your best move is to give people an appropriate and brief message without any private details that others don’t need to know. The closer you are to the person you are speaking to, the more details you probably want to provide. When there are children, providing the family with the news is especially important.
You should also talk to people with whom your children regularly interact, such as sitters, teachers, and parents of friends.
People at work probably don’t know to need you are divorcing, with the exception of your boss. You will likely have “bad” days ahead, and you will need time off for visits to your attorney and the court, so he or she needs to be aware.
How To Deliver The Message
Your friends and family may feel the need to provide you with criticism and/or advice. They are likely to have firm pro or con opinions on the subject of divorce. To avoid too much sharing, it is a good idea to have the “divorce announcement” all worked out, with the flexibility to add or subtract information for various audiences. This allows you to announce your plans while deflecting unwanted comments.
Decide how you want the message to be perceived. How much detail is it necessary to share? Will you be calm or judgmental regarding your soon-to-be ex? By taking as much control of the situation as you can, you will avoid many unwanted questions. Keep in mind that when someone especially curious (read nosy) asks questions that are too personal or detailed, you are under no obligation to answer them.
Friends and Family
You love them all, but friends and family play different roles in your life. The big announcement can be accompanied by acknowledging these roles. Ask your mother, the banker, about financial advice. Discuss needed babysitting services with your sister. Tell your best friend that her shoulders may be needed when you get the urge to vent.
You and your partner will likely have friends in common. Make it clear to them that they do not have to choose sides. As for the in-laws, if you get along with them, tell them that you are open to any type of relationship with which they feel comfortable. This is especially important if there are children involved.
How To Nail Your Divorce Announcement
The standard Hollywood divorce announcement is always the same. “We will always love each other and remain friends.” You may wish to be a bit clearer and a tad more honest.
- Identify Your Divorce
There are amical divorces, there are divorces from Elm Street, and there are surprise divorces no one, especially you, saw coming. Without too much elaboration, clarify the situation. “We are talking, and all is going well,” or “It’s painful and I don’t want to go into details” is appropriate. “He’s involved with the hussy at the office” should not be a part of your basic announcement. If the cause of the divorce was infidelity, you control how much information you release.
- How Will The Announcement Affect Others?
Again, this is where the divorce announcement requires a certain amount of personalization. If your spouse, who has mowed the neighbor’s lawn for years, is moving out, the divorce is actually affecting your neighbor.
- Know how to end the announcement, preferably on an upbeat basis. Ask the person to whom you are speaking a question about him or herself. This will gracefully shift the subject to something other than your divorce, end questions, and keep you in control.
After perfecting your divorce announcement, be prepared for some predictable questions. Having a generalized answer will make the conversation easier for you to control. Some of the questions for which you should be prepared are:
- How long have you been having problems?
- Is there someone else (anyone but a close family member can be ignored here)?
- What can I do to help?
- How are you feeling?
The last two questions are particularly kind and helpful and deserve an honest answer.
You Might Lose Friends
Frequently, your social circle includes you as a couple spending time with other couples. In many cases, this can mean specifically creating a social life around work and business friends. If the majority of these friends are on your partner’s side of the ledger, chances are they will shift their allegiance from you as a couple to your partner as an individual. You will be the odd person out, but don’t take it personally.
This is the time to reconnect with old friends or make new ones who really aren’t involved in your current situation. This provides you with an opportunity to start a new life with new people.
These days, people aren’t a couple unless they are verified on Instagram. Are you really getting divorced if you don’t announce it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram?
That depends on your comfort level. Some people divulge every aspect of their lives on social media; others, not so much. Stay within your comfort zone. However, remember that everyone has access to social media. Do you really want to share information with the snooty snob in accounting who keeps criticizing your expense reports?
Announcing your divorce can take as much work as the actual divorce. The more prepared you are, the easier it will be. And remember, stay in control. You are the one who decides what information you share, and which questions you answer.
The legal process can get difficult, which is why we always recommend that you seek the assistance of counsel; or at least have a consultation. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.
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