When it comes to the tangled web that is your personal social network (the offline one as well as your online network of friends), how do you go about announcing your divorce? Breaking the news is different, of course, depending on whether you’re talking to your parents, your coworkers, casual acquaintances, the kids’ teachers, or that nosy next door neighbor — but how do you do it? Consider this triage approach to spreading the news.
1. Your children: Even before your parents or best friend, once you know for sure that you and you are partner are going through with divorce or separation, it’s important for your children to hear the news first. For specifics on how to approach this touchy subject with a child, check out our recent blog “How to Talk to Children About Divorce.”
2. Your Inner Circle: This includes parents, close friends and relatives, spiritual advisors, your therapist or doctor, and anyone else you consider a member of your support team (your divorce lawyer hopefully already knows your intent). Depending on the relationship you have with those closest to you — and their geographic proximity, face-to-face conversations or a phone call (with ample time blocked out for it) may be best.
3. Teachers, Coaches, Guidance Counselors: Anyone who works closely with your kids should be made aware of change at home, especially if this includes a change of address or custody arrangements. A letter or email is often best because it gives you the space and time to make sure you are being very clear about details such as who is now allowed to pick up your child. Make a note in the letter to keep the news confidential and ask what other information the school requires.
4. Your Workplace: In general, it’s often best to inform your boss first, before the office grapevine does the job for you. Wait until a day when you are calm and together to break the news and keep it short and to the point. After this, go to personnel and do all the required paperwork to change your address and benefit information. Then, as you see fit, share the news with your co-workers. Depending on the dynamics of your workplace, telling a certain well-placed co-worker is probably enough to make sure everyone knows by the end of the day.
5. Neighbors: If you are on familiar, friendly terms with your neighbors (ie, you’ve watched each others homes when you’ve been on vacation and you generally find them trustworthy), let them know about your change in living arrangements once the matter has been firmly decided. You don’t need a concerned neighbor calling the police because she sees your spouse on the premises when, unbeknownst to her, the two of you reconciled — only spread the news when the divorce or separation is a done deal.
6. Facebook and Twitter: It’s a great way to disseminate information quickly, but don’t even think about changing your relationship status on Facebook from married to single (or “it’s complicated”) — or tweeting news of your divorce — until you are ready for the entire world to know. And don’t be a flip flopper. And when you do post something, keep in mind that any bashing of your spouse on social media could come back to haunt you! If you are unsure about your divorce plans, consider leaving the relationship status part of online profiles blank until you know your next move.
Fun Fact: Really want to make a splash announcing your split? Right next to the New York Sunday Times’ famous “Weddings & Celebrations” section is a new section that runs recent divorce announcements. All the news that’s fit to print? Your news may just fit the bill.