Telltale Signs You are Ready for Divorce

Signs You are Ready for Divorce

While every couple will decide that divorce is the best option at different times, there are a few first signs that you are ready for divorce.  The decision to get a divorce is not easy, but understanding why the decision was made and that it was the best option for the family can help make the divorce process feel worthwhile. 

When a relationship is heading for divorce, a couple will often begin to see common signs that the end is on the horizon. Because divorce proceedings are a long process that usually involves discussing personal matters with the court, they can be arduous. This is why it is crucial to determine that you are ready to give up on a failing marriage and find a divorce lawyer.

This article will briefly discuss the divorce process and outline what a party must be prepared for when going into a divorce.  Next, it will discuss scenarios when divorce is the best option for a couple and give suggestions for people who do not feel ready for divorce.  After this, it will outline several signs that indicate that you or your family is ready for divorce and provide an outline for how to prepare, both before and after you discuss the possibility with your partner. 

It is essential to acknowledge when you are ready and when there are other options to try and to have a basic understanding of the process before jumping in.  

The Divorce Process Explained in Steps

Divorce is the process by which a married couple legally separates.  This involves dividing assets, determining parenting time and child custody, and determining any support necessary between the partners.  It is often an emotional and personal process as a family has to learn to live separate lives.  However, the legal process of divorce can usually feel cold and unforgiving, especially in a highly adversarial court trial.  Because the process is complex, preparing adequately and understanding what will happen is essential to ensure that both partners are cared for. 

Before anything is filed, the partners will usually discuss the idea of separation.  This can happen mutually, and the parties may agree to separate their lives.  They may have been separated long before anything was filed.  Some states may even require that the parties live separately for a time before the divorce proceedings may begin.  However, in some cases, the discussion about separation and divorce may shock the other party, especially if they are oblivious to the difficulties in the relationship. 

If you are preparing to have this conversation with your spouse, understand that it may be difficult, but it is a vital step in divorce.  It can create a space where the parties can discuss the split amicably and agree on key aspects of the split.  

Once the parties have decided to end their unhappy marriage and that a divorce is the best option for them, they can begin the legal process. 

This will start with the petition and move through several steps before the parties officially divorce.  These steps include: 


Official divorce proceedings begin with a petition filed in court. The petition is written by one spouse and served upon the other. It often includes information about the couple’s unhappy marriage, the parties involved, any children or property that the spouses may share, and requests for child custody and child support.  


Once the respondent receives the petition, they will have a set amount of time to respond.  This will include any agreement with the petition or any differences the respondent wants to see in the final decree.  


Default will happen if the responding spouse fails to reply to the petition.  The petitioning spouse may ask the court to grant a default judgment and rule in the petitioning spouse’s favor.  In this case, the divorce will be final.  However, there are often ways that a spouse may request that the file be reopened, so this is not always the final result.  

Intermediary Hearings:

Between the filing of the petition and the trial, there will often be a series of intermediary hearings where the court will rule on motions, temporary custody, support orders, and other orders that may be needed while the parties are still working on getting the divorce. 


The parties may settle the case at any point before trial. This can happen through informal negotiations or during mediation. The spouses may also agree to the whole divorce or agree to some or most things and leave a few aspects of the divorce up to the trial judge.  


When any aspect of the divorce cannot be agreed to, the spouses must have a trial to determine how these provisions will be handled. At the trial, the spouses present their evidence to the court, and the court decides on the aspects that need to be decided, such as asset division, child custody, or support.  

While there is variation based on the state where the divorce is taking place and the couple, this is a basic outline of what a divorce through litigation will typically look like. When considering a divorce, it is vital to understand the process.  

Signs Divorce is a Good Option: 

While no divorce is going to happen without some pain and hard decisions, there are instances where divorce is likely the healthiest option for you and your spouse.  Every person will have their deal breaker and reasons for deciding to get a divorce, but the following reasons to leave may help assess if a divorce is the best option.  


Abuse or domestic violence in a relationship means that the relationship is not healthy, and it is dangerous for the victim to stay married.  However, it can often be difficult for the victim to leave.  

Substance Issues:

This will often accompany abuse, but instances of substance abuse where the spouse who has an issue with addictive substances will not acknowledge the problem or seek help are not healthy.  To be clear, this refers to instances where the partner refuses to recognize the problem and the issues it has caused for the relationship.  Spouses are often able to stay together when the addicted spouse is willing and committed to getting help.  


Many couples experience unfaithfulness and can work through it and trust each other again.  However, there are also cases where it is not healthy for the parties to stay together, especially in cases where the unfaithful spouse is not remorseful, and the other spouse is accommodating to keep the marriage together.  


Healthy relationships allow partners to forgive each other for fights and mistakes. However, relationships in which the partners hold grudges and consistently bring up old wrongs during current arguments usually mean that the spouses have not processed the wrongs and will likely not be able to process the current deep rooted issues in the relationship.  

Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity:

While this is not always a cause for divorce, it is expected that one spouse will come to terms with their sexual orientation or gender identity later in life, and that will affect the marriage.  This will often lead to times of growth for both parties and can lead to very amicable divorces, but it can affect the relationship at the center of the marriage.  

Role Modeling:

When couples have kids or are role models for kids, their relationship is often held in higher regard. When children look to a relationship as a standard for their own, the relationship demonstrated must be that of a happy marriage. If the relationship you are in models unhealthy behavior for the children in your life, it may be time to consider whether a divorce is for you.  

New Life:

If the prospect of having the freedom and new experiences that a divorce can bring is more exciting than staying in your marriage, it may be time to consider a divorce and divorce lawyer.

Healthy Home:

This is especially true if children are in the marriage, but it may be time to leave for any relationship if the home has become hostile instead of happy. Even if it is disappointing for the kids to have their parents split up, it will be healthier for them to experience a happy and healthy home.  


In a relationship, people can either push each other to grow or stifle each other’s growth. When partners are stifling the growth of the other spouse, it may be time to consider getting a divorce and divorce lawyer.  

These instances may provide a place for the parties to step into a divorce in a way that will be the healthiest possible solution.  However, in some of these situations, divorce may not be accessible, so it is also essential to understand the alternatives to divorce.  

Possible Options Besides Divorce 

While divorce is one of the best options if you are in an unhealthy relationship, it may not be the best option for everyone or every situation. Therefore, when considering whether or not you are ready for a divorce, it is important to consider the other options available for you and your spouse. Some alternatives include working on the relationship to stay in it. 

Others include expanding or shifting the relationship to make the marriage work. Finally, some options will effectively end the relationship without legally separating the spouses.  It is important to note that if the spouses attempt to save the relationship, they must agree to the process and be equally committed, or they will be set up for failure from the start.  Some alternatives include: 

  • Marriage Counseling: Often, unhealthy marriages result from communication issues or struggles to understand each person’s needs. Attending marriage counseling or family therapy can benefit couples committed to understanding what is causing the rift in the relationship and how to fix it.  
  • Alternative Marriages: While alternative relationships are not for everyone, some may benefit from considering a relationship outside the monogamous standard.  This can include open relationships, where the couple is free to see other people while remaining married, or parenting relationships, where the couple stays married to parent their children but transitions their relationship into a platonic one.  Any alternative marriage needs to be adequately communicated and needs to have the option to leave if necessary or unhealthy.  
  • Separation: A separation can be as formal or informal as necessary and last as long as the couple wants. An informal separation often involves the couple living separately and beginning to determine if a permanent separation is best for them. A formal separation, also known as a legal separation, will have all the same determinations around children and assets as a divorce. However, the couple will still be legally married and could not marry again without a divorce.  
  • Mediation: Mediation can help a couple struggling to connect and looking toward separation. It can be helpful if you are struggling with a specific issue that needs to be discussed and decided. The mediator can help the couple work through the issue and agree on a plan for the future. It can also be helpful for couples looking to separate without the whole court process.  

While there are other options, these are some of the most common. Spouses can work together to restore their relationship or separate cordially and freely.  

Signs that You are Ready for Divorce 

In some cases, however, a couple is ready for divorce and wants to begin.  This may happen quickly, but it may take time to understand that you and your spouse are ready to get a divorce and move forward with your lives.  There are no set ways to begin to discover that divorce is happening, but there are signs that a relationship may be ready for divorce.  These signs include: 

Adversarial Arguments:

It can signify that a couple is ready for a divorce when every argument becomes a competition about who can win, not a conversation about how to repair the relationship.  This is a sign that how you perceive yourself is more important than what you put into the relationship.  


Faking can include faking with your spouse and in front of others.  If you are uncomfortable being fully yourself before your spouse, the relationship cannot be fully open.  If you feel like you are acting like your marriage is better than it is in front of others, you probably are.  

Not Fighting:

This may seem counterintuitive, but it is not always the best sign when a couple does not fight.  This often means that one or both spouses are keeping anger and resentment inside and not communicating with each other.  It can also mean the partners do not feel that fighting is worthwhile.  


Constant stress around your spouse indicates the relationship is ready to move on.  Our bodies often give us signs of how we are feeling, sometimes before we are aware of it, and physical reactions to your partner are usually a sign that something is amiss in the relationship.  


While having time for yourself and enjoying being alone is healthy, consistently focusing on goals and priorities for yourself is often a sign that a healthy marriage has broken down.  It usually means you are more focused on your individual lives than building a life together.  

Relying on Others:

A spouse is often a go-to person for certain aspects of life.  They are often the first person you tell exciting or terrifying news to because they mean so much that you want to make it work.  However, it is a sign that you are ready for divorce when your spouse is no longer your go-to person, and you begin to go to other people first.  

Thinking about Leaving:

Another telltale sign that a marriage is ready for divorce is that one or both spouses have threatened divorce.  This can be an innocent thought of if you should leave that stays in your head and continues to come up.  It can also evolve to create an exit strategy plan for when you go.  Thinking about leaving often means that you are on the way out. 

Loss of Respect:

One of the most significant indicators that your marriage is ready for divorce is a complete and total loss of respect for one spouse. This means you do not believe your spouse is reliable or credible, and you do not want to consider or honor their perspective. Losing respect in this way means you will likely not be able to repair your relationship.  

There are many other signs that a marriage is ready for divorce, but these are some common signs that may help you recognize that you are prepared and willing to go through the divorce process.

Preparing for Divorce 

One of the most important steps in divorce is preparation steps. While many preparation steps will happen as you begin to discuss the divorce with your spouse, some should be considered before discussing and proceeding.  Some places will refer to these tips as ways to secretly prepare for divorce, and it may be beneficial to keep them to yourself, especially if there is the danger of abuse if your spouse finds out that you are leaving.  However, keeping these steps secret is unnecessary, and they may even help spark the conversation with your spouse.  Some tips include: 

  • Individual Accounts: Many people may not have a credit or bank account in their name.  If you are preparing for divorce, you must ensure that you have accounts that you can use while the rest of your assets are divided.  
  • Write Everything Down: Especially if you anticipate that it will be a contested and adversarial divorce, it is important to write down everything that happens.  Fights over the kids may become evidence for custody later on.  Having a record will help jog your memory and know when and how things happened.  
  • Keep Track of Money: Depending on financial circumstances, it is important to begin to keep track of where the money goes to help create a financial plan for the parties.  The court must determine whether one spouse is financially dependent on the other and whether support is needed. 
  • Create a Game Plan: Plan where each spouse should live, who has the children at certain times, and how responsibilities will be decided.  You will also need to have a plan for how you address the situation with your friends and family to ensure they understand where you are.  


Suppose you are beginning to question the stability of your marriage. In that case, it is a good idea to prepare for separation or divorce and have a conversation with your spouse about the state of your relationship. While some relationships are headed for divorce, others may need to acknowledge the issues and find a way to heal. It’s up to you and your spouse to make these decisions.

Divorce is not an easy process to begin or complete, but understanding when a divorce may be the best option and how to spot a relationship that needs to end can help make those decisions.  It may mean that you need to look at your relationship and see if an alternative to divorce may be a better option, but it may also lead to seeing the signs that divorce is best for you and your family.  

If you want to learn more about the signs you are ready for divorce, divorce process, and dispute resolution, contact ADR Times!

Emily Holland
error: ADR Times content is protected.