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Divorce Letter to Tell Your Spouse It's over (Nicely)

Your relationship is over, but you've waited to have the "I want a divorce" talk. After all, it's one of the most difficult conversations you'll ever have. In this article, I'm sharing advice on how to tell your partner you want to end your marriage or domestic partnership (nicely). I also wrote a sample letter or email for you to use.

But first ... who do I think I am, writing your divorce-themed Dear John letter for you? You don't have to use it, but I wanted to create a script you could potentially use to break the ice with your spouse about important topics you want to discuss at the beginning of your divorce.

Maybe after reading it, you'll find your own "right words." But one thing is for sure: Reviewing this won't make things worse. How do I know? I've been a divorce lawyer for over 16 years, first at Levine Family Law Group and now as the CEO and Founder of Hello Divorce, an online breakup service that guides you through the legal process without the cost, confusion, and drama of a traditional divorce.

I understand that no one can sleep soundly during the days, weeks, and sometimes months or years before they tell their spouse they want out. Hundreds of people have asked me how to approach this crucial step in the process. So, I created this guide. Feel free to copy, paste, and edit:

Sample divorce letter to break the news that you want a divorce

Dear [Name],

Last night was hard for me. I can't even imagine how you must be feeling since I shared with you that I want a divorce. This was the most excruciating and important decision I've ever made, and I want you to know that I didn't make it overnight. We've been struggling for a while, and I just don't see a path forward that keeps our marriage intact and both of us happy.

While I have had time to process what I want and why, it still feels quite painful, and I need you to know that I did not come to this decision lightly. I am certain that despite our ongoing struggles, this feels surprising to you, and you are flooded with a million different emotions. I want you to know that I am committed to making the divorce process as civil and amicable as possible. We began in honesty. Let us end in it, too.

I have done a lot of research on divorce, and what I've learned is that there are ways to stay out of court and keep costs down. While I want us each to have the support we need, I am confident we are not the kind of people who will fight about every last thing in a long, drawn-out court battle. I've decided to proceed with help from Hello Divorce. It's an online platform full of resources, articles, and worksheets that support people through the divorce process. It's been helpful to me, and I think it would be helpful to you, too.

One thing that Hello Divorce really stresses is that in divorce, information helps people feel empowered and in control, which leads to less conflict. And I so very much want to work through this process with you with as much openness, honesty, and communication as possible. Here are some of the articles and other resources I found on their website that I found helpful and that you might like, too:

I confess I don't really know how to end an email like this. But I do know that while the future for us isn't what we'd planned, I'm grateful for the life we shared. And I hope we can move forward in a way that gives both of us the freedom to focus on our next chapter without dwelling on the stuff that led us to this place. Not that we can't be angry or sad, but I am hopeful that we can remember the good, not just the recent struggles or painful memories.

[Your name here]

If you have kids, add this to your divorce letter:

Because I know we're both concerned about the kids, I sincerely hope we can agree to make every effort possible to come up with a co-parenting solution we can all live with and build upon. I've done a bunch of research, and from what I understand, kids are super resilient, and they do much better when we shield them from (our) conflict.

I think the worksheet Create a Thoughtful Co-Parenting Plan would be a helpful tool for us to both work through. It has some good questions for us to think about in advance. If we work through this, we can compare our thoughts/notes as we start creating our own plan. There are loads of other resources at this link, including 26 Ways to Win at Co-Parenting This Year (and Beyond)

Moving forward with your divorce after telling your spouse

I hope you found this helpful and that you continue to use Hello Divorce's resources to support you throughout your journey. Our plans offer some of the most affordable ways to get divorced. Even better, our clients get one-on-one help from our experienced, caring account coordinator team. Check out our Hello Divorce plans and extra services, or schedule a free 15-minute intro call now.