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What to do when your spouse doesn't want a divorce

Spouses who choose to mediate their divorce usually agree to compromise and negotiate throughout the process. However, not even the couples who pursue mediation agree to divorce right away.

It is a common situation. One spouse asks for a divorce, and the other is shocked and does not understand why. So, they disagree and say they would do anything to avoid a divorce.

This can be a stressful situation, especially on top of the already challenging decision to end the marriage. Here are a few tips to help individuals through this.

Be patient

It is helpful to give spouses who say they do not want a divorce time to process. Many times, they have not contemplated a divorce—even if their spouse has. Therefore, they might need time to analyze the situation and think about how they want to move forward as well.

The spouse who asked for a divorce might want some time to think as well. After all, deciding to get a divorce is very different from taking the first step in the process.

Have an honest conversation

When both spouses are ready to talk, it is critical to have a civil conversation so that both spouses can understand both sides. Individuals should let their spouse explain the reasons they do not want to divorce. Common reasons they might want to stay in the marriage include:

  • They worry how a divorce could impact finances;
  • They are concerned about how a divorce could affect the children; or
  • They genuinely believe they can make the marriage work.

Then, the spouse seeking a divorce can elaborate on the reasons they do want to end the marriage.

This is often not a one-time conversation, so spouses should be prepared to discuss these matters thoroughly. If communicating becomes challenging or leads to disputes, spouses may want to consider consulting a professional, such as a family law attorney or a marriage counselor.

Consider a trial separation

If giving the spouse time and discussing matters with them does not work, it might be worth it for spouses to attempt a trial separation. The option of separation is often less intimidating for a reluctant spouse.

A separation is actually necessary to obtain a divorce in Virginia. However, separation also allows both spouses to:

  1. Experience firsthand what a divorce might be like.
  2. Gain a new perspective on how they want to move forward.

At Bowen Ten Cardani, PC, we understand that divorce can be hard on you and your family. No matter the challenges you face, our Virginia family law attorneys can help guide you through every step of divorce with experienced and compassionate counsel.

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