Once you’ve decided to end your marriage, you’ll need to break the news to your spouse. That’s a tall order—there’s no easy way to do it, and usually, there are several negative emotions involved. You may have already consulted with a Toronto divorce lawyer; that’s completely normal. Many people talk to a lawyer before they broach the subject with their partners.

There are several ways to tell your spouse you want a divorce, but your method of breaking the news might set the tone for your entire case. If you haven’t spoken with a Toronto divorce lawyer, consider doing so before you talk to your spouse. An experienced lawyer can help you determine the right time to tell your spouse you want out of the marriage and help you choose when, if at all, to leave your marital home and start your new life.

Sooner or Later: Which Works Best?

Generally, you should tell your spouse you’re considering divorce as soon as you realize you want to end your marriage. If you blindside your soon-to-be ex with your feelings, it’ll take a while for his or her feelings to “catch up” with yours, according to licensed counsellor Susan Pease Gadoua.

Be Fair and Provide an Explanation

After you’ve talked with your Toronto divorce lawyer and discussed your options, and you’ve decided it’s time to tell your spouse you want a divorce, be fair about it. Tell your spouse why you want a divorce and answer his or her questions. The reason is simple: if you leave your spouse wondering, they won’t be able to let go and move on like you have. This can get both of you into hot water later on by prolonging your court case or creating conflict where there should be peace.

How to Handle Emotions

Chances are, if you’re the one suggesting divorce, your spouse isn’t as emotionally prepared for it as you are. It’s important to understand that your spouse will experience a wide range of emotions that can include shock, anger and fear all at once. Your spouse may plead with you not to file for divorce, or may become angry and yell at you to get out.

Stay calm, and realize that your spouse is particularly vulnerable. If you waver, your spouse may get the wrong idea, according to Gadoua, and that can drag the entire process out longer and create more pain for both of you.

When to Talk to Your Toronto Divorce Lawyer

Usually, although the I-want-a-divorce talk is painful, it goes as smoothly as can be expected. However, if  your spouse becomes violent when you say you want a divorce, leave and get to a safe location right away. Call the police, and then call your Toronto divorce lawyer. Your lawyer will be able to provide you with immediate advice based on your situation.

Be sure to consult your Toronto divorce lawyer before you move out of your marital home—even if your spouse insists that you leave. Your lawyer can help you decide if and when you’ll leave based on your unique circumstances.