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Preparation advised before breaking the news of divorce

The decision to divorce is not easy and rarely sudden. Many spouses think long and hard about a relationship or try counseling before declaring that a marriage is over. Emotions usually govern the final choice to divorce, but experts agree spouses also have practical matters to consider.

Self-interest can be a new experience for divorcing spouses, who have sometimes spent decades thinking about "we" instead of "me." Acting alone can feel strange, but it is necessary to prepare for short-term needs and the life that will exist after a divorce settlement.

A couple's immediate environment changes once the choice to separate or divorce is made. Most spouses exit the relationship immediately, which requires planning for a change in living arrangements.

Safety factors can be involved. Advisors say it is smart to share the news of a divorce with a close friend or family member, who can provide support and help with any temporary or permanent transition.

Financial stresses accompany a couple's split. Renting an apartment requires a down payment, moving expenses and furniture investment. Sharing the home of a friend or relative can buy time to prepare for future expenses.

Advisors also suggest creating individual bank accounts and establishing personal credit. Spouses should secure personal cell phone and Internet connections by changing passwords and codes. Also, place copies of legal documents and contracts in a safe location.

After choosing to divorce and preparing to separate, it is time to tell a spouse about the decision. Counselors suggest keeping anger out of the conversation. Relay the reasons for divorce calmly. If possible, discuss expected behaviors and financial arrangements for separation.

Realize that all the preparation in the world cannot influence how a spouse reacts to the news. If there is any inkling a spouse could become abusive upon hearing the news, the discussion should take place in a public setting.

Divorce is not only an emotional parting. Spouses must also prepare to move on physically and financially from the time the decision to separate is clear.

Source:, "You've Decided To Leave Your Spouse - Now What?" Emily V. Gordon, May 31, 2012

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