It’s a conversation no one wants to have, but a marriage gone bad could eventually lead you to discuss divorce with your spouse.

The way you ask for divorce depends largely on the circumstances of your marriage, but there are five basic steps anyone can take to share their feelings and put the wheels in motion.

  • Carefully choose the time and place: Don’t be so anxious to ask for a divorce that you bring it to light at the wrong time, such as in front of your children. Choose a time and place that is convenient for both of you.
  • Be honest about your feelings: It’s a challenge to share your feelings, but honesty is the best policy in this case. If you hide your feelings or give your spouse a false sense of what’s to come, it will only complicate matters in the long run.
  • Stick to the basics: Many people go down the path of discussing the details of their divorce, which puts a lot of strain on the conversation. Things are heated, so now’s not the time to discuss property division, child support, child custody and related matters.
  • Protect yourself: This is a must if you have concerns about how your spouse will react. If they have the potential to become aggressive and even violent, you’re better off asking for a divorce over the phone or in a public place. Don’t let the magnitude of the conversation put your safety at risk.
  • Try to leave on good terms: This is easier said than done, but you should at least attempt to walk away from the conversation with the feeling that you’re on the same page. And if your spouse agrees that divorce is the best solution, you may even be able to proceed on good terms.

It’s important to take these steps as they position you to manage the many challenges associated with the divorce process. When you don’t kick things off on the right foot, it will only complicate matters in the future.

Once you have this conversation and are confident in your approach, you can move through the divorce process in an efficient manner that allows you to protect your legal rights.