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Global Guide to Divorce
Jack Jack the Cat

Being the recipient of “I want a divorce”

Hearing your spouse announce that she wants a divorce is unbelievable. What to do when you are informed that your spouse is leaving you. If you think you did not correctly hear what was said, ask for it to be repeated. Banish the impulse to throw the nearest piece of furniture at his head. An assault charge will not help your situation. My spouse’s female acquaintance suggested that I take all of his clothes and have a big bonfire in the backyard. Friends had more drastic ideas. Resist doing something in a rage, because that may impact your divorce proceedings.

Try to act calmly and feel free to ask the questions that pop into your head. “When did you decide upon this? Could we discuss this with a marriage counsellor first? Why did you not mention that you were unhappy? Are you seeing someone else and how long has it been?”

If your spouse asks you to move out of the marital home, refuse (except in an abuse situation). Check first with your solicitor (lawyer) about this, especially when children are involved. I stayed in our house through most of the divorce and my husband was required to pay the mortgage and I only paid the utilities. Your rent or monthly mortgage may be paid as part of the interim support. The person with a job or high income pays interim support in most cases.

If your spouse walks right out the door, go to the bank and withdraw some cash (no more than half) out of your joint account and save the receipt. You will require money for living expenses before meeting with a solicitor or mediator. Hopefully you have a credit card in your own name, because your spouse may promptly drop you as a co-signer on his card.

Ask around for an experienced family law solicitor/mediator and check online for more information regarding the person you select. This professional can get joint assets frozen if your spouse is apt to plunder funds.

You are in shock. Some people described this period as having an out of body experience. It was as if they were in a calm place not feeling any emotions, while their bodies were on autopilot doing necessary tasks. You may want to temporarily stay at your parents’ or friend’s place. Or after you spouse departs have someone stay with you particularly when there are children and pets at home.

I stumbled around Disneyland mumbling to strangers that my husband left me. Luckily these kind people were supportive to me in my zombie-like state. My sons and I later met with my friend’s family and I was showered with spa products. That gave me the nudge to nurture and pamper myself in this turbulent time. Allow people to do the same for you and accept their generosity. Gather your support system around you.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine