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Tips for Telling Your Family You Are Getting Divorced

couple argues with kid

Getting a divorce might be the best thing for you and your family, but it’s not easy. On top of the financial implications, logistical complications, and cost, telling your friends and family about your divorce can be uncomfortable. If you come from a religious background, the conversation can be even more challenging. Below, we offer a few tips on how to tell your family that you are getting divorced. For help with a future or pending divorce, call a dedicated New Jersey family law attorney for advice and representation.

Decide Who Needs to Know and When

Your divorce is your business, and it’s up to you to decide who gets to know when. Deciding who to tell and when allows you to control the narrative and ease into the situation according to your needs. People who may need to know early on include:

  • Your children. Your kids will be impacted the most by the divorce. If possible, you and your spouse should work together to develop a plan for telling your children and then do so together. Even if you cannot tell the kids together, or your spouse refuses to cooperate, there are still important steps you can take. Keep your kids in the loop as much as is appropriate for their age and maturity; the more they know, the less they will feel like things are spinning out of control. Be loving and consistent, and remind them that the divorce does not mean you do not love them.
  • Your parents and siblings. If you are close with your parents and/or your siblings, you’ll likely want to tell them as soon as possible. They may have a more negative reaction if they don’t hear the news from you directly, and they might hear the news without you providing context.
  • Close friends. Close friends are often the first to know about your divorce. You can rely on them to help you through the process. Make sure they know how much or how little you’d like them to share with anyone outside of your circle.
  • Extended family (aunts, uncles, grandparents). Whether and how you tell more extended family depends upon your relationship with them. If you expect to see them around the holidays, you might wish to have the conversation with everyone all at once or let them know ahead of time so you aren’t bombarded with questions about where your spouse is.
  • Depending on how close you are to the person, and whether you expect they will be emotionally impacted by your divorce, you should also consider how best to tell them. Do you want to have a face-to-face conversation, or at least a phone call? Will a letter or email suffice for more distant contacts? Do you want to just tell everyone at once via social media? Your divorce attorney can help you consider your options for informing family and friends, including how to make sure what you say does not adversely affect your divorce.

Let Other People Tell More Distant Relatives and Friends

After you’ve told your immediate family and other close friends and relatives, you may not want to continue having the same conversation over and over again. For more distant relatives (cousins, aunts and uncles, etc.), it may not be worth the effort and stress for you to contact them directly. Let your closer relatives and friends handle telling more distant family and acquaintances, if they need to know at all. You can ask your loved ones to present the news in a specific way, touching on specific points, so that you control the narrative even as the news spreads.

Offer a Reason and a Plan

Close family members, especially parents, can be a source of judgment and poor advice. They may try to encourage you to stay with your spouse and work through things.

It’s not your responsibility to share every intimate detail of your personal life with your parents, but it may be easier to assuage them if you can provide a specific reason for your breakup. Even if nothing extraordinary or specific went wrong–no adultery, criminal activity, abuse, drug or alcohol addiction–it may be enough to just explain how unhappy you have been in your marriage.

It may also help, with parents especially, to tell them your plan for the future. Giving those people an outline of what will happen–where you’ll live, who will care for the kids, etc.–can remind them that you are in control of your situation, you’ve thought things through, and you just need their support.

Let Them Know if You Need Help

Your family is meant to support you through the difficult times. If you are comfortable doing so, you can ask your parents and other close relatives for emotional support throughout the process. You might even ask them for logistical help, such as moving furniture, finding a new place to live, transporting or babysitting the kids, etc. Your parents may not know how best to help you, so let them know what you need.

Call a Dedicated New Jersey Divorce Attorney for Seasoned Advice and Representation

If you’re considering divorce, or if you’re dealing with issues involving parental rights, divorce, equitable division of property, alimony/spousal support, child support, or other family law matters in New Jersey, contact the compassionate and trial-ready Union family law attorney John B. D’Alessandro for a consultation.

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