Your spouse wants a divorce. Now what? That is the million-dollar question for almost everyone going through the divorce process for the first time. A partner may have seen it coming for the last few months, maybe even years, and maybe even a part of them realizes that divorce is for the best. Other times it comes out of the blue.  Regardless of whether they saw it coming or not though, the question remains. If your spouse tells you he or she wants a divorce, regardless of the reason, there are some commonsense steps to take to protect yourself and your rights at the beginning of the process that applies to most cases.

What to Do When Your Spouse Asks for a Divorce

Try, Try Again?

Unfortunately, divorce can be a reality even for couples that everyone thought would make it. Sometimes, couples may try marriage counseling, spiritual help, and even temporarily separate to try to find a way to save their marriage. Although some couples are able to reconcile and work through their marital woes, this isn’t always the case.

If you are going to physically separate to try to take a break and save the marriage, what you do during the break can have a large effect on your divorce case if things don’t work out.  If you paid or passed up on financial support from the other party while separated, this could be taken into consideration by the Judge if a party asks for alimony.  For example, if you were able to afford to financially support the other party while physically separated while working on the marriage, the Court may find that same amount is appropriate for alimony in the divorce case.

Also, if you have children together, the Court may find it instructive as to who cared for the children during the break when deciding a contested custody case.  Often a party that wants sole or joint physical

Remain Calm

Stay calm. Allowing your emotions to take over can lead you to say or do things that you may later regret. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is getting angry when things don’t go your way. This is especially true when you are just getting started with the divorce process, and doubly true if you have children.

There are plenty of big decisions coming your way in the not-so-distant future. Trying to manage those decisions will be next to impossible if you’re an emotional wreck. Keep in mind that you may be able to talk your spouse out of their decision. Think of your children. Try to keep your emotions in check to lessen the potential harm to your children. Remain calm when dealing with your spouse to encourage peace, even if he or she is uncivil.  Avoid being petty and you will likely save yourself a lot of heartache (and maybe legal fees, too).

Long-term relationships aren’t easy.  That being said, those who can remain calm and keep their emotions in check are more likely to make rational decisions, potentially save their marriage, or at least have a more peaceable divorce.


Determine if and/or when your spouse has or is planning to file for a divorce. Sometimes (but not always) there is the strategy in filing for the divorce first.  If your spouse wants to end your marriage and you don’t, determine if counseling may be an option before any formal legal steps are taken.


The reality is that divorce can be painful, it but does not have to be messy. Many people find that when they consult with an attorney about what the divorce may look like, it isn’t nearly as bad or scary as they feared.  On the other hand, sometimes a pre-divorce consult is a wake-up call that their expectations as to what the Court might grant them in a divorce aren’t as rosy as they pictured.  You might be more likely to give your marriage another try if your post-divorce life isn’t attractive either.

Each marriage is unique and there is no one right answer on how to deal with the potential for a looming divorce and how to save a marriage. Although they aren’t the cases making the news, many divorces are civil and relatively peaceful.  There is a lot of talk about collaborative divorce processes and mediation, but even without these tools, many divorce cases in Nebraska are finalized without a single in-person hearing.  Consulting with an experienced divorce attorney can help you figure out what your best options are.  If you’ve decided it is time to sever the marriage, there is often a middle ground to wrap the divorce up relatively promptly and civilly.

Gather Your Financials

While married, you likely have access to many of your shared assets.  If you are worried your marriage may be on the fritz, now may be a good time to take stock of what you own and what you owe.  Take a photo and inventory the contents of your safe and safety deposit box.  Count up (or deposit) the cash on hand.  Create a list of all account numbers and approximate balances.  Get an appraisal (for insurance purposes?) of any collection or higher value asset that may become disputed.  Review your debts and avoid adding any new debt to debts in both parties’ names.  Make sure payments towards current debts are being paid in a fair manner and not prioritizing the debts in your spouse’s name without a good justification.

Reach Out Legally

Don’t allow your spouse to intimidate you with threats of denying you access to your children, financial ruin, or other ploys. Do not agree to any custody, child support, spousal support, or property division without knowing what your rights are.  This is true even if your relationship with your spouse is relatively civil.  An experienced family law attorney can likely give you some ballpark figures or estimates as to what you would likely get if you took your case in front of the judge.  Your attorney can help you make educated decisions as to what is “fair” in your case and what you might expect if the divorce does go forward.

When it is Time, Have Professional Help

You’ve given it your best shot, but now you are divorcing.  Don’t go it alone.  Hire an attorney to help you with the legal part of the divorce.  Your attorney can help you make educated decisions regarding custody and your financials.  They can guide you through the procedural parts of the case, which is often the downfall of many who try to go it alone.  Once talking to an attorney, many people realize it is often not nearly as they feared.

Many people, think of a lawyer when they think about professional help with a divorce.  If you are an emotional wreck and the advice from friends and family to handle your anxiety isn’t cutting it, seek help from a professional counselor specializing in anxiety or family conflicts.  There are many tools and strategies that they can suggest to help you make rational decisions and remain calm during this often stressful period of time.

It isn’t uncommon to have the assistance of other professionals in your divorce case in addition to your attorney.  For example, for cases with children, the Court in Nebraska will likely require the parents to meet with a professional mediator to try to come up with a parenting time schedule.  For assets of high value that are difficult to assess, your attorney may suggest an expert witness calculate a professional valuation.  In terms of a very high conflict custody case, your attorney may suggest having a professional custody evaluation ordered.  Feeling confident that you have professionals working for you and giving you good information will give you confidence in making the tough decisions that sometimes come with a divorce.

Law Office of Julie Fowler, PC, LLO | Divorce Lawyers Omaha

Child Custody | Child Support | Divorce Lawyers Omaha

If you are looking for an attorney in a child support case or divorce in Omaha, Nebraska, or the surrounding areas (including Papillion, Bellevue, Gretna, Elkhorn, Lincoln, Nebraska City, Sarpy, Lancaster), contact our office to set up a consultation.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.