A Fresh Start in the New Year: How To Communicate Your Desires To Your Significant Other

Written by Jonathan Breeden

January 27, 2021

Before talking with your spouse or partner about leaving, we recommend learning about North Carolina’s separation and divorce requirements. To file for a no-fault divorce, you and your spouse must live separately – while intending to remain separate and apart – for 365 consecutive days.

Once you or your spouse move out of the shared home, you have to keep separate households for the whole year. If you reconcile, then the time apart does not count. You will have to start another year-long separation if you decide to divorce.

We recommend you think carefully about whether there is hope for your marriage before separating. You do not want to move out or ask your spouse to leave before you are both ready to end the marriage. Or you two may choose to live apart while working on your marriage, knowing it would not count toward the one-year separation.

When you are confident about separating, the next step is to tell your spouse, calculate your budget, and plan for living apart. We also recommend talking with a divorce lawyer at Breeden Law Office who can help you figure out the best way to move forward. You can reach us through our online form or call (919) 661-4970.

Stick To the Facts During Your Initial Conversation

Our divorce attorneys’ best piece of advice is to focus on the facts during the first difficult conversation about separating. Informing your spouse of your intention to separate is emotional. It can dredge up anger, resentment, hurt feelings, and old arguments. Do your best to talk about the facts of the situation.

Tell Them Your Plans

Explain whether you intend to leave or whether you want them to leave. If you are moving out, tell your spouse when and where you are going.
If you are still hunting for a place to live, tell your spouse the areas where you are looking and when you hope to have a new lease. There is a shortage of rental property in North Carolina. You and your spouse may need to be patient during the weeks or months it takes to find a suitable apartment or house in your budget.

Talk About Finances

Both you and your spouse need to calculate your budgets. You both should know:

  • Each monthly income without taxes
  • Monthly and quarterly bills, including rent/mortgage, renter’s or homeowner’s insurance, utilities, cell phones, internet, auto loans, auto insurance, health insurance, medical bills, credit card debt, etc.

If you are leaving but were in charge of the bills, you have to educate your spouse on the bills. They need to be ready to pay the bills either alone or with your help.

Have you been the breadwinner, or do you have a significantly higher salary? Then your budget may need to include a contribution to your spouse’s household. Talk with an attorney about whether you should provide financial support during a separation, and if so, how much.

Discuss Shared Custody

When you bring up a separation, an essential part of the discussion is how to navigate shared custody with the children. Do you want to take the children with you, have them stay with their other parent, or share custody 50/50?

Reaching an oral agreement regarding child custody is essential for the parents and children. You need to tell your children the plan and give them some consistency and boundaries before you can get a child custody order in court.

Expect Surprise or Denial

Do not expect this conversation to go smoothly or to end after one talk. You will likely have multiple discussions about separating and how and when you will tell your children.

During these conversations, prepare for your spouse or partner to be surprised, in denial, or angry. Even if they saw it coming, the reality is hard to face. Many spouses do not believe someone will leave even during an unhappy marriage.

You have to prepare to stick to the facts and hold your ground despite their intense emotions.

Call a North Carolina Divorce Lawyer for Advice

Communicating your desire to leave a marriage is hard no matter the circumstances. It can help to have the facts and a plan before telling your spouse, which is why we recommend working with a divorce attorney early on.

At Breeden Law Office, we can help you figure out whether to move out or stay in the family home, the financial aspects of living separately, a separation agreement, short-term child custody, and more. Reach out to us through our online form or call (919) 661-4970 to set up a consultation.


Divorce In North Carolina: What You Need To Know

A book by Jonathan Breeden