This is a common question and of course, like most questions, the answer is, “it depends.”

  • If you are afraid that your spouse may liquidate assets in anticipation of you filing for divorce, then you should not tell your spouse first. You should talk to a divorce lawyer right away so that your attorney can help protect your marital assets prior to the divorce being initiated.
  • If your spouse controls most of the assets, you should seek the advice of a divorce attorney prior to telling your spouse. Your spouse could “loan” money to friends and family or plan some other tactic prior to filing which could make it harder to claw those marital assets back after the divorce case has been initiated with the Court. Because the division of marital assets in a divorce arises from the marital relationship, as a general rule, a claim for division of marital assets cannot be brought against a third party. However, an exception to that would be joining the person or entity who received the marital assets as a third party to determine the relative rights to the marital property, but a money judgment cannot be entered against that third party under such circumstances. Do you see how complicated a divorce can get if you tell your Spouse you want a divorce without consulting with an experienced attorney?
  • If your spouse has close ties to a foreign country, for example, if your spouse was born in England and still has friends and family there, what is to stop your spouse from fleeing with all the assets to England or Europe when you tell your Spouse you want a divorce? An experienced divorce attorney knows how to stop your spouse from fleeing the country with all of the assets.
  • If your spouse is abusive, whether emotionally, financially or physically, you  should speak with a divorce attorney before you tell your spouse you want a divorce.Your divorce attorney can help you develop a plan to keep you safe before your spouse finds out you want a divorce.  Burdine Law also offers a solution to paying legal fees such that your spouse does not discovery you have hired an attorney beforehand, and will also help you keep your communications private.
  • If your spouse has a personality disorder, you should definitely not tell your spouse about the divorce before speaking with a divorce attorney. A good divorce attorney will listen to your case, she won’t be mostly concerned about how much you can pay her, and she will be familiar with the various personality disorders that commonly surface in divorce cases, and she can help you strategize how to control your spouse’s personality disorder prior to you telling your spouse you want a divorce.
  • If you have minor children, then it is best to seek the guidance of your attorney who can advise you as to what steps to take, including pre-divorce strategies that will optimize your parenting time with the children while the divorce case is pending and after the divorce is final.
  • If you have credit cards and your spouse is a spendthrift, your spouse may retaliate at the mention of divorce; you should seek counsel from a divorce attorney prior to telling your spendthrift spouse about the divorce.
  • If you and your spouse are both emotionally mature, or you control the assets, it is  to discuss divorce with your spouse prior to filing for divorce.
  • If you control the assets and are certain that your spouse cannot destroy your credit, then you do not have to speak with an attorney before you file for divorce, however, if you have children and you want to maximize your rights to custody of the children, it is best to speak with an attorney.
  • If you think your spouse will run to an attorney at the mention of a divorce, you should speak with an attorney before telling your spouse you want a divorce.
  • In most cases, it is best to consult with an attorney before disclosing to your spouse that you want a divorce.  An experienced divorce and family law attorney can help you plan for the divorce prior to your spouse finding out about it, which will help make the whole process easier for you.

Attorney Hannah Burdine has devoted 100% of her practice to divorce and family law since 2009 in the State of Georgia and now here in Metro Nashville, Middle Tennessee, and she offers free telephone consultations to clients planning for a divorce.