I Want a Divorce and My Spouse Doesn't. What do I do?
Written by Michelle N. Ogborne

I Want a Divorce and My Spouse Doesn’t. What do I do?

If you want a divorce and your spouse doesn’t, it can be overwhelming to deal with negative emotions. Helplessness (What can I do now?), despair (I can’t live like this anymore.) and anger (They control everything, even this!) can make you miserable and unsure.

Before acting on these emotions, it’s important to find time to speak with them about your feelings.

If You Want a Divorce, It’s Time to Talk

This is ironic because your marital communications may be the worst they’ve ever been. Now that you want a divorce, you’re supposed to talk to each other?

Discussions often escalate into disagreements and then arguments. You may be playing the blame-game, which often focuses on something that happened years ago. If you have children, they may be laying on a guilt trip, convincing you that you’re a bad parent because you want a divorce.

Don’t Use Words as Weapons

When you’re afraid of change, you may pull out all the stops to protect yourself. When you want a divorce and your partner doesn’t, better communication can begin with you. You should focus on your partner’s uncertainties. Fears may include money, living alone, “losing the kids,” or any number of suspected changes a divorce may bring about.

When You Want a Divorce, Explore Your Options

Appoint a time and place where both of you will have no distractions. Create an agenda based on your fears and feelings. One of your rules should be to focus on “I” statements. At this meeting, discuss divorce options, including legal separation and collaborative divorce.

Legal Separation and Collaborative Divorce

What’s the difference between a legal separation and divorce? “The process for both is similar,” says family law attorney Michelle Ogborne. “Some couples choose to legally separate first when they want time to see if they can work on the marriage, while others are ready to move directly to divorce proceedings.”

If you want a divorce and you’re positive this will be your relationship’s ultimate outcome, should you still consider a legal separation?

  • A legal separation confirms how financial and familial responsibilities will be divided. An informal “trial separation” can lead to on-the-fly decisions and even more disagreements than before.
  • Insurance policies continue as before – usually – but check all insurance policies (especially health insurance) to see if a legal separation changes the coverage.
  • Joint tax returns may be more cost-effective.
  • Military benefits continue uninterrupted.
  • Separation allows you time to be sure this is really what you want.
  • Staying married may have other financial benefits and could include retirement/social security benefit advantages.
  • The experience of living alone and sharing the kids can allay your spouse’s fears. Divorce then seems less terrifying than before.
  • You will still be married in accordance with your church.

A legal separation is as binding as a divorce, so be careful. Your Arizona attorney can help you stay future-focused. You don’t want to commit to things you “think you can live with now” only to discover weeks or months later that you really can’t.

If you and your spouse aren’t on the same page about divorce, it could end up in litigation and be a huge ugly divorce. Talking about it can open up options for you to work together by using the collaborative process.


Not only will you learn communication skills that help when you want a divorce, but they can also have lifetime value. You’ll be able to re-capture the respect you had for your spouse and work toward mutual benefit. You’ll strive to understand your partner’s fears and explore ways to strengthen yourselves as individuals and as a family.

You Have Choices

When you want a divorce or separation in Arizona, meet with an experienced collaborative divorce attorney to discuss how to have this conversation with your spouse. Contact Ogborne Law, PLC to learn more.