You’ve decided to divorce, now you need to decide how to let people know. But what details should you share? With whom? How should you deliver the message? Via e-mail blast? Phone call? In person? Here are some tips for how to spread the news.
Keep it simple and direct. Your close friends probably already know the news, since you’ve been talking to them all along. Writing an email is a concise, time-saving way to tell those outside your inner circle who either have an interest (extended family) or a need (accountants, teachers, doctors) to know about the change in your marital status. [Read our blog How Do Your Announce You’re Getting Divorced? for a triaged list of who needs to know what and when.]
Consider a joint announcement. If you and your STBX (that’s soon-to-be ex in divorce speak!) are amicable, consider writing a formal, joint e-mail. Explain that after much consideration, you have decided it’s best to end your marriage and move on. Include any new contact information. Ask for privacy and thank people for their understanding, in advance.
Or be your own publicist. If you and your spouse are not on good terms, however, you will need to deliver the news solo. How you handle your divorce announcement will set the tone for your post-divorce life. It will also tell people a lot about you and affect how they respond. Are you portraying yourself as a victim? A rageaholic out for revenge? The Good Parent who must rescue the children from the Bad Parent? Save the venting for your close friends and therapist and exit an untenable situation with dignity.
What should your email say? Before going public with your divorce:
– Write your email as if your ex will read it. Resist the urge to eviscerate your spouse. That friend you thought was on “your side” might turn out to be in your spouse’s corner and forward your less than kind words to your STBX. Your task is to inform people of your changing circumstances and new contact information, not to list all the ways you’ve been wronged by your spouse.
– Don’t over share on social media. Unless your account is private, whatever you post can be read by anyone: your boss, your kids, the cute guy you just met on OkCupid. You will regret telling hundreds of virtual friends what a nightmare your spouse is if a screenshot of your cyber-slander winds up in a legal document.
– Operate on a “Need To Know” basis. This is especially relevant when children are involved. Teachers, for instance, need to know about the divorce so they can plan how to support your child. They will need to have a general idea of any key issues – abuse, custody, one parent’s mental illness or addiction — that may affect your child’s ability to learn and socialize. But they do not need to know details of your spouse’s affairs or a list of what you believe to be her parenting fails. So divulge only what needs to be said. No one wants to be sucked into a vortex of ongoing conflict, or feel pressure to take sides.
– Keep your boundaries. Some people may ask – via email, phone, or spontaneous in-person encounter — to hear more than you’re comfortable sharing. Nip this awkward situation in the bud by stating politely but firmly that you’ve shared all the information that’s relevant and then ask them what’s new in their life. You owe no one – besides your legal team – an explanation.
Have questions about divorce? Wherever you are in the process, even if you are just considering the possibility and want to learn more, we can help. Please contact us today to schedule your initial attorney consultation at any one of our conveniently located offices.