One of the more challenging aspects of getting a divorce is figuring how to tell people about it. Most people have a wide range of relationships—from casual acquaintances to close friends and family—and trying to find the right time and way to inform them about this major life change can be difficult.

In most cases, since the people you know will find out that you’re getting divorced, it can be helpful for you to be proactive and let them know—this is especially true of your close friends and family that you wish to use as support.

The people that need to know about your divorce directly from you are your kids. You want to control this message and definitely want to ensure that they hear this news from you. If you have friends or family that you want to use as support, you can tell them before you tell your kids, but only if you can be sure that they won’t let the news out until you are ready.

Here are some tips for telling people about your divorce:

Telling your parents and close friends: People in this group may already be aware of marital problems. You can let them know that you have sad news you need to share with them and that you appreciate their understanding that you don’t want to talk about all the details.

Though you might feel like venting, you will be better off if you can share the news of your divorce without blaming your spouse or giving every gory detail of what led up to it. Along those lines, you can also let people know that hearing their war stories of divorce or hearing how much they’ve always hated your spouse isn’t helpful to you. “What I need right now is people to listen and be available to me. We are trying to divorce respectfully and it sends me down a bad path to be so negative.”

Telling casual acquaintances and co-workers: Eventually, the people you interact with regularly will know about your divorce. These conversations can be short and matter-of-fact. “I wanted you to be aware that we are getting a divorce. I hope you will respect my privacy around this issue.”

Your boss may actually need to know earlier in the process because people often have legal proceedings that need to be taken care of during the workday. “I want you to be aware that I’m getting a divorce. I might need some time off occasionally to deal with it, but I will make every effort to maintain my regular work schedule and not let this impact my work.” 

Telling teachers and babysitters: Teachers and babysitters are caring adults in your kids’ lives and can be another pair of eyes on your kids during this difficult time. Let them know that you are getting a divorce and ask them to let you know if they notice any changes in your child.  Providing the context of the family changes can help teachers and caretakers understand difficulties with academics or behavior and respond appropriately.

 It can also be helpful to think of some standard responses to questions that feel intrusive or uncomfortable to you. For instance, “I’m not ready to talk about it” or “I hope you will respect our privacy” can be your go-to phrases. Also, by limiting the amount you share, you are respecting your spouse’s and children’s privacy. 


Sharing your private pain is a difficult but necessary task. You should be certain to take care of yourself during this process. What you may find is that you will receive more support than you imagined and that the experience will be a first step towards your life post-divorce.