What Should You Do When Your Wife Wants a Divorce?
Your wife wants a divorce. The marriage is over. What do you do? Let us show you.
Your wife was clear she wants a divorce. What is next?
Perhaps you saw this day coming. Maybe it was a surprise. Either way, your wife wants a divorce and you want to know what to do. Do you lament until her lawyer serves you with divorce papers? No, there is a better way.
We wrote this article for those husbands who want to prepare themselves for the divorce. That preparation includes personal, financial, and parental.
When have you made poor choices when you are fully prepared for what came next? Has it ever happened? When your wife tells you she wants a divorce, your level of preparation dictates the intelligence of your choices. Be prepared. Knowledge is truly power.
Assume your wife consulted with a divorce attorney
Why is it smart to assume if your wife wants a divorce that she already consulted with the divorce attorney? We speak and write from experience. The great majority of wives who consult with us do so well before they proceed with the divorce and before their husband knows of their intention to file. Maybe that is coincidence but I doubt it.
Chances are good by the time your wife tells you she wants a divorce she already consulted with a divorce attorney or has immediate plans to do so. If this sinks in, you are more likely to prepare yourself and not be blindsided with the games some wives engage in both before and immediately after they file the divorce petition.
Consult a family law attorney immediately
Your wife probably knows her options because she consulted with a divorce attorney. Do you not want to know yours? Consulting with the divorce attorney is not just about picking the right one to hire. It is about educating yourself on the California divorce process and California divorce laws. Once you understand how the divorce process works from the initial petition and response phase through and including the divorce judgment, you will make smarter choices and moves.
Do not accept a limited parenting role
Did you suddenly become a lesser parent because your wife wants a divorce? It sure feels like that, if you believe your wife, right? One of the smarter moves you can make if your wife wants a divorce is not to accept a limited parenting role. Wives who are restricted gatekeepers often try to force that limited parenting role on their husband. They do this most with young children. This may include isolating the children from you, disparaging you to the children, and asking you to move out or otherwise take a smaller role.
Do not do it. Maintain the status quo or even increase your participation in the children's lives.
Good co-parents do not do this. If your wife is doing it, she likely has malicious intent.
Protect important documents from destruction
Another smart move you can make when your wife wants a divorce is to protect important documents. In today's world, we store most of our important documents in some form of digital space. This may be the Cloud or perhaps on the local drive to your laptop computer. You may even have it on one or more flash drives. Wherever you store important documents, safeguard them.
To safeguard documents, always have a duplicate copy. You should not prevent your wife from having access to records. However, you should also not let your wife have exclusive access to records you are concerned she may destroy.
Do not ignore your wife's false allegations of prior or current "abuse."
If you feel like you are being set up, pay attention. You should become concerned if you notice your wife trying to document or otherwise make false allegations of prior or current abuse.
We often see these allegations through electronic communication. A husband may receive a random text message or email about current or prior abuse that did not occur. A malicious wife may weave these comments into a conversation about something else.
Do not just become upset and ignore these communications. Set the record straight. Tell your wife she is making false allegations and she knows it. Tell her you are concerned about her behavior in that regard.
If your wife takes the false allegations to the level of getting child protective services, the police or other authorities involved, or otherwise making these allegations to other persons such as school officials, counselors, etc., you should consult with a family law attorney immediately.
Be careful of false domestic violence allegations if she wants you out of the house
Some wives freak out over living under the same roof with their husband once they decide they want a divorce. As part of this "freak out", they insist their husband move out.
What is the smart move to make when your wife not only wants a divorce but you are concerned she may make false domestic violence allegations?
This is a complicated situation. If you have children, you may not want to move out because your wife will engage in that restrictive gate-keeping I mentioned earlier. However, if you do not move out, you are concerned your wife may make false domestic violence allegations against you. These false allegations may be arguments she starts and then calls the police claiming you hit her or engaged in some other act of domestic violence. You would be surprised how many times a police officer arrests the wrong person.
Even if she does not involve the police, she may file an emergency restraining order request in family court and make misrepresentations in the paperwork she files.
If you suspect your wife is capable of doing this, you do not sit on your hands. You consult with a family law attorney immediately to address the situation. Do not be surprised if the advice you get is to immediately file for divorce, have the family law attorney document your wife's misconduct consistent with the intent to make false domestic violence allegations and file a request for child custody and parenting time orders.
You do not think false allegations of domestic violence happen? It is more common than you realize. We see it in divorce cases. When husbands consult with us, we have sometimes predicted it in their case. Fortunately, we can give our clients customized advice regarding their situation. We have not only helped our clients avoid false allegations, but we have also defeated false allegations and successfully obtained court orders for attorney's fees against the wife.
Limit your wife's excessive spending
If your wife's spending is outrageous and you are concerned she may liquidate community property accounts, one smart move is to limit your wife's spending.
First, you should ask your wife to limit her spending and document this communication. Asking is not making a demand. Asking is pointing out why her spending is unreasonable, why the community estate cannot afford it and why you are asking her to stop as a result. Be clear with your wife that you do not consent to her unreasonable spending. The last part is a smart move so if this becomes a disputed issue during a divorce, you can ask the court to not hold you 50 percent liable for that spending.
If necessary, you can lower the spending limit on credit cards. You can also stop depositing your paycheck into the joint account, and instead place that paycheck into a separate account you establish. You should not hide this separate account from your wife. There is nothing wrong with her knowing about it. However, you should make clear to her that you will take money from that separate account and place it into the joint account for reasonable spending. If your wife is completely out of control with her spending, you may want to pay these bills yourself.
Be careful you do not breach your fiduciary duties to her. Before you do any of the above, you should have a consultation with the family law attorney about your specific situation. An experienced family law attorney can tell you what smart moves you can make if your wife spends unreasonably and has no intention to stop doing so before the divorce.
File for divorce first if necessary to protect yourself
I suppose you can wait and see if she wants to file for divorce. If you know the marriage is over, and you know you want to move forward with your life, why wait?
Sometimes it makes sense to wait for strategic reasons. These may be financial or parental. We have seen husbands wait and not proceed with the divorce because one or more children are imminently graduating from high school. Some husbands do not want to disturb that transition from high school to college. Other husbands believe it is a smart move to not file because they expect a significant change in their job duties or pay to occur.
At the risk of repeating ourselves, you really should consult with a family law attorney before you make these choices. I have consulted with so many husbands who thought waiting was a good idea when it was not or who thought filing immediately was a good idea when it was not. You do not do this for a living as we do. The smartest move you can make is to understand your choices after consulting with a real professional.
What do you say to your wife when she wants a divorce?
Here is a bonus, smart move you can make when your wife wants a divorce is to control your tone and your words. We are big believers in men behaving like gentlemen at all times. Yelling, arguing, threatening, or similar behavior is not smart. It is downright stupid. It is exactly the cliché of throwing fuel on the fire.
There is nothing to gain by anger. If you are angry, sad or confused because your wife wants a divorce, take the time to gather your thoughts. Once you learn your options, you can make calm decisions. It is not coincidence that calm decisions are often smart ones.