How to Tell Friends and Family about Your Divorce

Once you and your spouse decide to get a divorce, you’ll have to figure out when and where to tell people. Of course telling the children is the biggest hurdle, but telling friends and family about your divorce is difficult and can cause additional stress.

There are no rules for how to break news of divorce to people. A lot of it depends on your situation and how comfortable you are telling people. Here are some guidelines to help you get started:

Take time to process. This is a difficult time for you, and it might feel like something you don’t care to share just yet. That’s fine. Until you can wrap your head around this life change, it might seem impossible to tell others. Take your time. However, keep in mind that the news may begin to leak. Your spouse will tell people; neighbors may notice one of you has moved out. So if you are taking time, be prepared with a response in case someone asks point blank.

Tell them together? Only if you feel you and your ex (and families) can handle it. Telling people together may spark arguments. The exception is telling the children. {link to post}

Practice a speech. Figure out what you’re going to say. People will want to know the reason. It’s up to you how much you want to share with whom; don’t let people push you into sharing details if you don’t feel it appropriate. In some cases, there is danger in offering too much about fights or cheating. Say, for example, you and your spouse reconcile. Or say the people you tell are later called into court. When you get questions you don’t want to answer, “I’d rather not talk about it right now,” is a good response.

Prepare for your emotion. Telling people will feel awkward and painful. Sometimes it will be harder than others. You might be surprised to find yourself reacting with strong emotions as you share the news first with your closest circles. Your emotions may change as you tell more people. Each time will be different, but still awkward.

Prepare for a range of reactions. If your ex is an outright jerk and publicly cheated on you, you’ll probably receive immediate love and support. But if you and your spouse are splitting (somewhat) amicably, you may hear a variety of responses. Just as you needed time to process, so, too, might your friends and family. After all, your spouse has been part of their lives, too. Try not to demand they sever ties and for your children’s sake, try to keep a good relationship with your ex in-laws. On the other hand, you might hear things like, “I never liked him/her from the start.” That type of comment isn’t helpful, so you may consider including a “Please don’t say a bad word about him/her to me” as part of your announcement.

Prepare for unsolicited advice. Back to the “I don’t want to talk about it right now.” That phrase is a good one to have handy for people offering ideas on how to “fix” your marriage.

Expect some changes. Some of your friends are part of your life because of your spouse or because you are married with children just like them. These people might start drifting away. And that’s OK. Your true friends are those who care deeply for you and with whom you’ve shared personal thoughts and feelings. They’ll stick around.

Telling Coworkers
If you aren’t close with any coworkers or colleagues, you might not have to share the news. And in some offices, gossip runs rampant, which means you probably don’t care to share. But you may end up telling your boss because of some work schedule changes as you meet with a lawyer, therapist, go to court, and more. You may find it helpful to let your boss know, as well, because he or she may be supportive and more flexible. You will probably need to have word with HR about changes to your tax status and changing the bank account where you paycheck is deposited. HR may also have information about any programs and benefits that will help you. For example, some company benefits offer some free therapy sessions.

Learn from others who are going through the same experience by joining us for our Second Saturday divorce workshop.

We're Here To Help

Schedule a case review with our Director of Client Services.