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Dropping the divorce bombshell

Following the issuance of a divorce decree, a spouse still has an important task. Telling friends, family and co-workers about a divorce may be difficult and cause problems if it is not handled correctly.

A general announcement on social media such as Facebook is wrong and can lead to unexpected and unwanted answers. Different language should be used for different audiences such as family members, children, friends and employer and co-workers.

One therapist recommends that a spouse prepare a script that can be narrowed to a few sentences and first rehearsed before friends. It should not criticize the former spouse and is intended to gather support. Spouses should guard against telling more information than they wish to share.

If possible, friends should be told that the decision was mutual. Otherwise, express the desire that the split-up may be peaceful.

Friends should be advised not to criticize the former spouse in front of their children. They should be assured that they do not have to take sides.

Telling the children is important but difficult. Parents should answer partial questions and provide reassurance.

Other people may be told, not for the drama, but for practical reasons. The children's teachers may need to know so they can tell parents if the children are acting out or having other problems at school.

Employers may need this information to allow time off for work or to deal with a different schedule. The language should state that the employee hopes that the divorce will not affect their work but that they are going through a difficult time.

Spouses do not need to inform distant friends. Conversations should be kept short and recommendations on providing help, such as telephoning the spouse or assuring privacy.

An attorney can help a spouse provide advice on dealing with divorce legal issues such as support and child custody. They may help assure that a fair and reasonable decree or settlement is reached.

Source: The Courier-Tribune, "How to tell people you're getting a divorce," By Alison Bowen, Chicago Tribune, Jan. 27, 2018

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