Your marriage is on the rocks and you’ve tried everything to fix it. Rather than continue to hope for the best, it may be time to ask your spouse for a divorce. It’s a big step in your life, but it could be just what you need to regain your happiness.

If you’re ready to ask for a divorce, here are the steps you can take when doing so:

  • Plan what you want to say: As one of the most difficult conversations you’ll ever have, it’s critical to plan your approach and have a basic idea of what you do and don’t want to say. This is preferred to simply jumping into the conversation and hoping that everything works out.
  • Be honest: Don’t lie to your spouse, make up stories or say anything to make them feel better. It’s best to remain honest and stick to the facts.
  • Leave enough time: Don’t ask for a divorce when you know that you only have a few minutes to discuss it. This is an extremely important conversation, and you owe it to your spouse to give them reasonable time to understand where you’re coming from and process the request.
  • Stay safe: You may have concerns about the way your spouse will react to your request for a divorce. If they have a history of becoming verbally and/or physically abusive, it’s typically best to ask for a divorce in a public place, in the company of others or over the phone. There is never a good time to take risks with your safety.
  • Don’t talk about future events: The conversation may eventually (or quickly) drift toward child custody, child support, spousal support and property division. Yes, these things are important, but you shouldn’t discuss them immediately after asking for a divorce.

Even if your marriage has been sour for many years, it’s never easy to ask for a divorce. This is a big life change, and you know that it will impact your spouse, too. And if you have children, it’s even more difficult to go down this path.

On the plus side, once you ask for a divorce, you’re in position to move through the process and eventually put it in the past.