When you’ve tried to make your marriage work for years, and you and your spouse can’t seem to get it together, the next step may be to consider obtaining get a divorce. This conversation is difficult to initiate for some, understandably. Some couples struggle with bringing up the topic of divorce, and there is no “accurate” answer for making this conversation easier. But, with preparation, the process can run a bit smoother. In my opinion, here are three ways to effectively communicate, “We need a divorce” to your spouse.


If you know your spouse is easily combative and does not take constructive criticism well, brace yourself for this conversation. As a divorce lawyer and family lawyer working in Bergen County, New Jersey, and Monmouth County, New Jersey, I can attest to initial divorce conversations not going over well. The “We need a divorce” topic can unlock a myriad of emotions – that is why it’s best to prepare ahead of time. I suggest role-playing with a licensed couple’s therapist or counselor to ease some of the stress and anxiety.

Listen to Their Perspective

This should not be an argumentative or tense conversation. Be mature enough to listen to each other’s viewpoints and feelings regarding a divorce. Choosing to divorce is not an easy decision, and you have to be willing to weigh the pros and cons – especially when you have children together. Some couples wait until their kids are grown to finally go through with a divorce (I’m sure we all know someone who’s done this before). Instead of entering this conversation with 100% confidence that you will divorce your spouse, be willing to pursue other options, such as counseling, separating, or rebuilding your marriage altogether. After listening to each other’s perspectives, you may discover that you don’t even need to divorce. 

Position Yourself

If divorce is in fact inevitable for you, and especially if you have been married for a while, living alone and starting over can be overwhelming. Put yourself in a position to live off of one income if alimony is not a factor. Develop a budget and stick to it. You may have been accustomed to dual incomes for quite some time, so you have to now solely take care of most (if not all) things. If you are receiving alimony or child support from your spouse, it could ease some stress. However, some do not honor their obligation to pay child support and alimony. As a family lawyer in Bergen County, New Jersey, I know about this firsthand. Hopefully, this will not be the case with your current, soon-to-be former spouse.

All in all, the topic of divorce can have the ability to reveal various emotions. The “We need a divorce” conversation is not an easy one to have, especially when your spouse already has communication issues. But, through preparation, listening to each other’s perspectives, and positioning yourself, the divorce process can be less of a burden.


This article contains general information and opinions from Sheena Burke Williams and is not intended to be a source of legal advice for any purpose. No reader of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information included in this article without seeking legal advice of counsel. Sheena Burke Williams expressly disclaims all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any content in this article.