Divorce is very difficult. Even ones that are fairly amicable. One of the hardest and first aspects is having to break the news to your family and friend. After you have informed your children (if you have any), who needs to be told next? In what part of the divorce process should people be told? How exactly do you inform people about a major change in your life that you might not be ready to talk about in great detail?
Every divorce is different, and everyone will have different answers to those questions. However, I did think it would be useful to compile some advice - including some of the main "do's" and "don'ts" that should be considered for people who are currently struggling with these questions.
"I recommend that you tell whoever you feel like it and continue to talk about until you get the support that you need. I did not tell my family and parents for 5 months and I was miserable. They turned out to be my strongest support." - Susan
I hear this over and over again from my current and past clients. Sometimes our perspective can be clouded by outside opinions or factors or the stigma that is still too often associated with divorce. Take a step back and reimagine your circumstances as another life-changing, major piece of news like a diagnosis of an illness, or a big work promotion. Who would you want to share this news with? Who would react the way you want them to do and give you the support that you need? There is a good chance that the same people would be there for you and provide you with the support that you need throughout your divorce process.
"I recommend that you inform your immediate network of people about your divorce to (1) get referrals for qualified lawyers, and (2) get the pipeline started for leads on future housing or job opportunities if you are currently unemployed." - Attorney Spencer Schiefer
That is an excellent point. If you believe you are ready to share your news, even selectively, then your network of close contact will be ready to help you in whatever ways they can. Getting job and housing leads, as well as attorney referrals from individuals you trust, can really save you a lot of energy and time. It will also make those you share your news with feel good that they can support you in very valuable and meaningful ways.
The ex-wife of a friend of ours sent a card out to announce the divorce with her new address on it. It said, " A change of a dress" with a photo of a new dress hanging on a hanger and her new contact information on the inside of the card. It seemed like she was trying to be funny or cute, but we were offended along with other people who had been friends with her husband first and then became friends with her after they were married. I felt it was an offensive play on the idea of not only her address change but the change in her taste in her husband and their marital status." -Lisa
There is a very important lesson here. It is important to be aware that something you think is lighthearted may not feel that way to others. Make your announcement in whatever way feels appropriate to you. However, you need to be prepared to get unexpected negative feelings or feedback from people who might not understand the approach you used.
"I didn't give a formal announcement. I sent a Christmas card to my dearest and nearest that had only my daughter and I on it, instead of all three of us. People were able to figure it out on their own. I send Christmas cards out every year, so it wasn't a dig against him." - Valerie
I like this one a lot. Just making a simple change to something Valerie does every year when sending her Christmas cards out to those she cares the most about. Just as subtle: changing your status on social medial, or completely deleting any relationship status information on social media.
'I recommend that you don't make broad, public announcements, like on social media, since even though typically a divorce is a public record when you make a broad announcement it can attract businesses and individuals who try to prey on divorcing couples. For example, there are many businesses that thrive on purchasing (and then flipping) homes from divorcing couples since they often want or need to sell quickly. Providing information on their divorce can suggest that the house is in distress and that could result in lower offers and getting less money." - Attorney Spencer Schiefer
You are the one who gets to decide when and with whom you will be sharing your news. There are no wrong or right answers. There are just useful things for you to consider. Once you decide to share your news (if you do), remember that first impressions are important. It is your chance to fame how others view your divorce from the very beginning.
Hopefully, you do people in your life who you feel comfortable sharing your news with about your divorce. It can be a very painful and difficult process. If you can establish a strong support network early on it can help you better navigate the process from the start. The Hello Divorce team is always here to help you as well.