Technically, the law does not require you to inform your spouse of your intention to divorce before filing. However, after the time that you and your spouse have spent together, he or she deserves to hear it from you directly before you have the divorce papers served.
While a conversation about divorce will be difficult no matter what, Psychology Today describes some things you can do to make it somewhat easier on both you and your spouse.
Gain clarity first
Before you inform your spouse of your intention to divorce, you should take some time to think about it and consider your options. You should only broach the subject of divorce to your spouse when you are certain that there are no other alternatives.
Avoid blaming messages
Even if you believe the divorce is primarily your spouse’s fault, blaming him or her does no good and could make the conversation more difficult. A blaming narrative can put your spouse on the defensive, setting the stage for an antagonistic divorce process. To avoid this, use “I-messages” to describe your feelings, e.g., “I am unhappy, and I want a divorce,” rather than, “You have made this marriage intolerable for me” or “This divorce is your fault.”
Keep the conversation private
If you have children, you will have to inform them of your divorce later. However, the initial conversation should not take place in front of them, or in a situation where they could accidentally overhear it. Arrange for the children to be out of the house when you talk to your spouse. Give your spouse time to process the information before you discuss the divorce with children and people outside the relationship.
It is important to strike the right balance between sensitivity to your spouse’s feelings and a consistent message that your relationship is irreparable and divorce is the only option.