How to know when it is time to get divorced?

Making the decision to end a marriage is a very big decision. Many people took vows to live together through poverty and poor health for the rest of their lives. Leaving the marriage leaves them feeling conflicted. Ending the marriage leaves some people feeling relieved and elated, others numb or guilty.

In my opinion, there are a few reasons to definitely end the relationship. The clearest, most definite reasons to leave are:

  1. Abuse of children (physical, verbal, mental or emotional)
  2. Neglect of children (lack of supervision, medical attention, nutrition)
  3. Abuse of other parent (physical, verbal, mental, emotional and financial)
  4. Unaddressed or out of control addiction or mental health issues
  5. If these reasons apply to you, then I recommend that you start taking steps to prepare for the end of the relationship or take serious action to correct the above issues.

If the above four items do not apply to you, I suggest that you attempt to try everything that you can to solve any issues in the relationship. Have you tried:

  1. Marriage counselling or couples counselling?
  2. Individual therapy to work through underlying issues?
  3. Finding the spark again? Perhaps a holiday together to escape the day to day issues and reconnect
  4. Exercising? Endorphins from exercising can make you feel better, release frustrations and in turn may help your marriage
  5. Making a conscious effort to overlook small niggly concerns and not whinge? No one is perfect and everyone has flaws
  6. Tried to communicate in a different way to your partner? Altering the way that you convey your message in the hope it is better received or understood: write a letter to your partner or tell your partner what your needs in a different manner or way.

After, trying the above and should they not have been successful, it is time for introspection. How are you feeling? Are you happy? Have you changed in the marriage? Did you change for the better or for the worse? Do you find yourself complaining or whinging all the time? What will make you a happier person every day?

If you have children, you need to ask yourself whether you and your partner are modelling the appropriate behaviour as adults and as parents? Would you be a proud parent if your child behaved the same way as an adult to their partner or friends? Fortunately, children are young enough to learn the correct way to treat others, provided that the correct behaviours are demonstrated and regularly reinforced. Leaving a bad relationship can be a learning lesson for you and your children; learning that they deserve better, understanding that it is possible to start again and make a great success of life. You will show your family, children and friends what drive and desire manifests and break any degenerative generational cycle.

If your child’s behaviour has changed for the worse then it is also time to take drastic actions to improve the relationship or move on. Symptoms may include:

  1. Bed wetting when they have been dry
  2. Co-sleeping after a period of sleeping independently
  3. Night-terrors or lack of sleep
  4. Tantrums that are not age appropriate or a withdrawn child
  5. Increased anxiety
  6. Poor or degenerative or violent behaviour
  7. Becoming withdrawn
  8. Communicating less

You need to consider your situation and reflect on whether the above are a result of the family situation or whether they may be something else that can be explained/investigated. Only you know the situation you are in and only you know what is “normal” for your child.

Try. Try. And try again. Once you have done everything that you can, are able to justify your decision to your children in fifteen years and you still feel content with your decision to terminate the relationship, then do it. You don’t need to rush to tell your partner it is over. Take time to reflect and ensure it is the right decision. Before telling your partner the relationship is over, it can be helpful to get a small headstart and review the Separation Checklist for some guidance and direction with necessary preparations.

Once you have decided to separate, consider:

  1. Should I try a trial separation?
  2. Will we co-habit while separated or can we afford two homes?
  3. What will our separation look like? Will we be amicable and try to communicate constructively?
  4. Will I ensure that I try my hardest to keep my children out of and away from any arguments with my partner?

Stay strong, keep smiling.

Remember, if you would like some support creating a plan or want to receive some guidance and direction with what you are experiencing, please book your Strategy Session. Learn more here.


This is general advice only and is not provided as legal advice. If you have a legal issue, you should contact a lawyer and/or accountant before making a decision about what to do or applying to the Court. cannot provide legal advice. If you have an emergency situation, please contact Emergency '000'. © Divorce Pty Ltd