Most individuals unhappy in their marriage spend at least 2 years considering divorce, before making the decision to proceed.

If that sounds like you, you’ve no doubt been thinking about ending your marriage for a very long time.

But taking the next step is a much bigger deal than just thinking about it. You need to be sure it’s the right decision for you.

So when is divorce the right answer?

To help you recognize the signs you are ready for divorce, we created this post based on our extensive experience as peaceful divorce experts, and combined with feedback from former mediation clients who shared with us how they knew they were ready to get divorced.

We hope it's helpful to you as you determine if you are ready for this significant life event.

13 Signs You are Ready for Divorce

In no particular order…


You did everything in your power to try to save your marriage.

tried-to-save-marriage-emsYou communicated to your spouse you were unhappy in the marriage on more than one occasion.

Expressed your expectations and needs.

And asked for their help in making some compromises and constructive improvements to benefit both of you.

You faithfully went to see a marriage counselor. And saw a therapist on your own.

Read self-help books about healthy marriage such as Gottman's The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work and put in the effort to do the work. You may have even attended a weekend couple retreat.

You can honestly say that you made every attempt to save your marriage.



You created a solid plan for how you will break the news you want a divorce to your spouse.

Because poor communication is common in a failing marriage, you enlisted the help of your therapist to thoughtfully plan how you will tell your spouse you want a divorce.

Together you worked through the details of where and when to have this difficult conversation.

Role played answers to questions your partner might have after you tell them.

And even practiced techniques to ensure you will remain calm no matter how your spouse reacts to the divorce news, especially if it is with anger.



You’ve discussed divorce with your spouse and you’re both in agreement to proceed.

Despite being in an unhappy marriage, some couples are not on the same page about divorce.

One partner might want out, while the other thinks another year of marriage therapy would make all the difference.

Maybe one spouse’s religious beliefs or family life values conflict with divorce.

Or perhaps they simply want to stay together for the sake of the kids and delay divorce until they’re grown. (In fact, that’s one of the main reasons for the high divorce rate among empty nesters.)

But a clear sign you’re ready for a divorce is when you and your spouse are in agreement that getting divorced now is the right next step, despite how heartbroken you both are about that conclusion.



You educated yourself on the available divorce options and chose your preferred method.

You met with a divorce lawyer or two and/or took the time to learn about more peaceful options such as divorce mediation or collaborative law process.

And you’ve identified the divorce option (and divorce professional) you believe will work best for your situation.

If your spouse is on the same page about divorcing, you may have even shared that information with them (or involved them in this research.)

All that’s left to decide is when to start divorce proceedings.



You’re optimistic about the future and your life after divorce.

You no longer spend every waking moment fully consumed by your marriage problems because you’ve now shifted your focus to your own happiness.

Instead of being filled with dread, you’re optimistic about the future (even though you’re also a bit terrified).

And you’re excited to embark on a new chapter in your life – solo.



You and your spouse are already living separate lives.

While there are many things make a marriage different than any other type of relationship, a key difference is the level of emotional and physical intimacy spouses have with each other.

If one of you already moved out, the physical distance probably went hand-in-hand with sexual intimacy.

But even if you and your spouse still live together and share the same address, if you’re emotionally disengaged, it’s a telltale sign you’re already living separate lives and are ready to end the marriage officially.



You’ve met someone else and you’d like to give it a go.

You and your wife or husband have been separated or living separately for quite some time and you both know there’s no chance of reconciliation.

Neither of you were in any rush to divorce, but you recently met someone new and would like to pursue that relationship.

So now is the right time to divorce.



You’ve already lined up your divorce support system.

Traditionally you’ve relied on your partner for support through difficult times.

But things are different now.

You know life during and after divorce is going to be challenging for many reasons and in many ways. So you’ve already taken steps to create a solid support system.

You started seeing a mental health professional or divorce coach.

Joined a divorce support group.

Signed up for yoga classes.

And identified key people in your life you can trust who will be there for you.



You and your partner have already examined your finances to determine if you can both survive financially after divorce.

divorce-finances-planning-emsDivorce doesn’t create income, it only creates expense – as two households are more expensive to run than one.

Oftentimes, a married couple considering divorce hasn't given any thought to what their financial picture looks like, to find out if they can make ends meet post-divorce.

But you’ve already created a budget to identify your cash flow needs. Compared it to your tax returns and earnings statements to confirm available financial resources.

And you’ve taken a hard look at your overall finances to determine whether you (and your spouse) can survive financially and meet your financial obligations after establishing separate residences.



If you’re facing divorce as a stay-at-home mom or dad, you’ve taken active steps to improve your financial situation.

When you and your husband or wife spoke about post-divorce finances, you learned you wouldn’t be able to make ends meet living apart.

So you began taking active steps to address the shortfall.

Whether that means getting a part or full-time job, going back to school to attain skills to help you earn a living, or finding ways to reduce living expenses, you are doing (or did) what needs to be done to secure your financial future.

Because despite anticipating receiving alimony or child support, it’s important to you to be able to support yourself and become financially independent.



You’ve already determined you can keep your child in their current school district after the divorce.

keep-kids-in-same-school-after-divorce-emsDivorce creates significant, unavoidable life changes for everyone involved – including your kids.

It’s going to be hard enough on them to not have mom and dad around 100% of the time, or that they may no longer be living in the only home they’ve ever known.

And the last thing you want is to disrupt them further by taking them out of their current school district, too!

So you already did some legwork and identified residences in town you can both afford, that will be large enough for the kids to spend parenting time with both of you, and are safe places to live.

And determined the children can go to the same school, regardless of your child custody arrangement or whether or not you (or your spouse) keep the marital home.



You’ve decided when to start the divorce process.

While there’s never a good time for a divorce, you can make a plan to minimize the chaos that divorce can bring on.

And that’s exactly what you’ve done.

You and your spouse compared your work and travel schedules and reviewed your upcoming family commitments for the next few months.

You’ve even examined the children’s holiday and school break calendar to weigh out when the divorce would have the least disruption for the kids.

And after much consideration, made a concrete plan for exactly when you would start the divorce (and mediation) process.



The fear of the unknown is less terrifying than living with the regret that will come from spending the rest of your life miserable.

made-peace-with-decision-to-divorce-emsYou are connected to yourself and your values, and know you will be unable to live authentically if you stay in this relationship.

You know you’re the only person responsible for your own happiness.

And realize that ending the marriage is best for your well-being and the well-being of your kids. You also want to role model what a healthy marriage is.

So for these reasons, you are at peace with your decision and are ready to divorce.



Only you can spot the signs you are ready for divorce!

But hopefully this post has given you some things to think about to help you determine when you are ready to take that significant step forward.



Preparing for divorce? The choices you make before you start the process are critical!


But you can only make smart choices if you take the time to get educated and prepare for divorce first.

Because people who prepare do better in divorce!

Teach Me How



Other Useful Resources:

Cheryl Dillon, Divorce Coach

Written by Cheryl Dillon, Divorce Coach

Cheryl Dillon is a divorce coach, relationship expert and co-founder of Equitable Mediation. Cheryl earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Connecticut and is a Certified Life Coach. She completed formal training at The Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC) – an internationally recognized leader in the field of coaching education. Having gone through a painful divorce of her own in 2002, Cheryl knows first-hand the turmoil ending a marriage can have on an individual's emotional well-being. Through her divorce coaching programs, Cheryl has helped countless men and women survive and thrive before, during and after divorce.