So You Want a Divorce: 5 Steps To Take Now

So You Want a Divorce: 5 Steps To Take Now
Last Updated on September 27, 2023 by Carlos Lopez

You’ve been unhappy in your marriage for quite some time and, after a lot of thought, you’ve decided divorce is the only way to find peace. You may feel overwhelmed, relieved, confused, or a combination of emotions. That’s normal. To help you get a handle on what needs to happen from this point on, here are 5 steps to take after deciding you want a divorce :

1. Tell Your Spouse

This is the critical first step, and often the most difficult. Chances are your spouse has some inclination that something’s not right with your relationship, but he or she may still feel blindsided when you announce your decision.

The best way to approach breaking the news is to avoid placing blame and reiterate that you wish to move forward toward the best possible solution for everyone.

Be prepared for your spouse to want to engage in a lengthy discussion or request a listing of your “reasons” for wanting divorce.

He or she may react with shock, anger, or disbelief, and may attempt to talk you out of your decision. These are all normal reactions.

Do not participate in the blame game, and do not interrupt your spouse as he or she expresses emotions.

Respond as compassionately as possible to his or her reactions and do your best to keep you emotions as even as possible.

Your responses at this point will begin to set the stage for whether your divorce will proceed with high conflict or not.

2. Hire an Attorney

Even if you anticipate you and your spouse will agree to all the various parts of your divorce – child custody, child support, who keeps the house, etc. – it is advisable to hire an Divorce Attorney in DC.

Even having an attorney simply to look over your proposed divorce decree to make sure you have all your ducks in a row is helpful.

Family law attorneys have a deep knowledge of the laws surrounding divorce and custody in your state. They can answer any questions you may have and are invaluable partners during a confusing and difficult time.

3. Collect All Important Papers and Documents

It’s an unfortunate fact that important papers sometimes “disappear” during a divorce, whether a spouse takes them or they really do get lost as one household splits into two.

Information such as Social Security cards, medical paperwork, marriage licenses, and car titles must be kept secure, as they will be necessary during the divorce process.

Other information, including logins and passwords to banking accounts or other financial accounts, need to be collected.

Take snapshots of all joint account balances on the date you decide to tell your spouse you want a divorce, and consider changing passwords on any accounts that belong to you alone.

Keep everything in one place and consider storing it in either a safe deposit box or entrusting a family member or friend to keep the paperwork.

A side note: Also change passwords to anything you wouldn’t want your spouse to access in order to collect information on you, or that could be used to cause damage to you or your reputation during the divorce. This includes email, social media, and your computer itself.

Choose passwords that do not have any easily guessed characteristics, such as pet names, children’s birthdays, or favorite sports teams.

4. Start Thinking about Logistics

Divorce brings about many decisions and life changes, and you need to begin thinking about them as soon as possible to help maintain as much stability as possible for you and your children.

Either you or your spouse, or both of you, will need to move out of your home, so finding alternative housing is imperative.

If you currently are a stay-at-home parent, you likely will need to begin thinking about finding a job or going back to school.

You also will need to consider childcare for when you are at work or at school.

If you and your spouse have a completely entwined financial life, you also will need to begin thinking about splitting accounts or switching banks, and obtaining your own credit cards.

The same decisions will need to be made about any loans, such as mortgages, home equity loans, and car loans.

Sitting down and listing out all the financial accounts and loans you and your spouse have will be helpful down the road, as you won’t be scrambling for this information.

5. Keep Conversations To the Future, Not the Past

It can be very easy to slip into old patterns of bickering and blaming, especially if you and your spouse still live together.

Your spouse may want to rehash old hurts, or figure out where everything went wrong. He or she may even try dragging out photo albums from family vacations in an attempt to relive the “good times.”

These types of discussions are unproductive and can lead to more conflict at an already difficult time.

If your spouse, or even you, begins to slip into trying to have conversations about the past, simply say that you will be happy to have a conversation about the divorce and logistics going into the future, but you will not entertain discussions of the past.

Sometimes, this can mean there’s a gap in time while your spouse processes the reality of the impending divorce and mourns the lost relationship.

That’s normal, and you can continue to work on your post-divorce plan while your spouse comes to terms with what lies ahead.

Logistics of Divorce in Washington DC

Emotionally and logistically, divorce is difficult. Filing for divorce, serving your spouse with divorce papers, negotiating terms, and attending court hearings are typical divorce stages.

It has legal and financial implications that might change the parties’ lives. Understanding divorce logistics is essential for everyone considering this tough process.

The decision and filing for divorce are the first steps in the divorce process. The petitioner submits divorce forms to the court.

A divorce petition or complaint, which states the reasons for the divorce and how the petitioner wants to share assets, debts, and child custody and support, is normally necessary.

Serving your spouse with divorce papers follows filing them.

You have three options for serving your husband with the divorce papers: process servers, sheriff’s offices, or mail. The spouse must next accept or oppose the divorce papers, which might lead to talks or a trial.

The next big step is term negotiation. This involves discussing property, child custody, support, alimony, and other crucial issues with the divorcing spouse or their attorneys.

A settlement can save the couple from trial. If not, the court decides.

Finally, judicial hearings may occur. These vary depending on the divorce’s complexity and the parties’ agreement or disagreement.

Initial appearances, pre-trial conferences, and a trial may be held to resolve the couple’s disagreements. Understanding each phase can simplify divorce logistics.

Experienced Divorce Representation in Washington, D.C.

The team at Lopez Law Firm, PLLC, has years of experience with all aspects of divorce and custody in Washington, D.C.

We work alongside you every step of the way, always advocating for your best interests. Contact us today for a free consultation.


  1. Eliseo House says:

    Step 6: Adopt a pet together and name it Divorce Dinosaur. 🦖🚀 #MovingOnInStyle

    • Kaiya says:

      Response: Seriously? Naming a pet after divorce? Thats just plain insensitive and disrespectful. There are much better ways to move on and find happiness. Lets leave the past behind and focus on building a brighter future, shall we?

  2. Annie says:

    Comment: Step 6: Adopt a pet llama. Theyre great listeners during divorce dramas.

    • Valeria Kirby says:

      Are you serious? Getting a pet llama wont magically solve divorce dramas. Maybe try therapy or talking to actual humans instead?

  3. Denver says:

    Comment: Step 6: Hire a professional organizer to help you organize your newly single life!

    • Gwen Villarreal says:

      Comment: Hiring a professional organizer might be helpful, but dont forget that self-discovery and personal growth are essential after a breakup. Embrace the opportunity to learn about yourself and build a fulfilling life on your own terms. Youre capable of more than you think!

  4. Porter says:

    Step 6: Book a Vacation! Because hey, who needs stress when going through a divorce?

    • Joaquin Butler says:

      Are you serious? Going on vacation during a divorce? Thats just plain irresponsible and insensitive. Divorce is a time of emotional turmoil, not a reason to escape reality. Maybe try showing some empathy and support instead of suggesting a vacation.

  5. Laila says:

    Step 6: Adopt a pet. Nothing like a furry friend to help you through a divorce!

    • Nathaniel says:

      Adopting a pet during a divorce can be a misguided decision. Its important to prioritize stability and emotional well-being during such a challenging time. Consider therapy or support from loved ones instead.

  6. Sawyer Robertson says:

    Step 6: Hire a professional organizer to help you declutter your emotional baggage. Trust me, it works!

    • Selah Rubio says:

      Are you serious? Hiring someone to declutter your emotional baggage sounds like a complete waste of time and money. Its called self-reflection and therapy, not outsourcing your personal growth. Take responsibility for your own emotions instead of relying on others.

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