What happens when only one of you wants to separate? | C + K Family Lawyers

What happens when only one of you wants to separate?

What happens when only one of you wants to separate?

What happens when only one of you wants to leave your marriage?

Separation and divorce are always difficult, but perhaps the most difficult scenario is when one of you wants to separate and the other does not.

If this is you, no matter which party you are in this scenario, it is incredibly difficult to navigate.

In most breakups, one partner will reach a “point of no return” in the relationship before the other does. They are done talking, have no interest in working things out, and as far as they are concerned, the relationship is over.

Yet the other partner, whether this news is “out of the blue” or not, wants to “try again”. They want to save the marriage. Knowing how their spouse feels, they tend to panic, hold on tighter, and as a result, simply drive their spouse even further away.

If one spouse wants a divorce, they may well have been building up to it for many months or even years.

They are mentally prepared. The other spouse is not.

This is despite the fact that in all likelihood, the couple has not functioned effectively as a team for a long time. Living in the same home is not the same as living together and making a life together.


If you want a divorce and your spouse does not:

  • Consider couples counselling to gain clarity and open lines of communication.
  • Have compassion for your spouse and their feelings.
  • Acknowledge the hurt your decision is causing.
  • Be patient – within reason.
  • Consult a divorce lawyer.


If your spouse wants a divorce and you don’t:

  • Don’t beg them to stay – crying and hysterics will simply push them further away.
  • Don’t agree to leave the home – if they want to leave the relationship, they need to be the one to move out.
  • Don’t make it worse – if you do any of the following, stop:
    • Complaining
    • Criticising and blaming
    • Having affairs
    • Losing your temper
    • Pressuring your spouse
    • Spying on them (email, social media, following, and so on)
    • Smothering them
  • Consider how your own behaviour may have contributed to the situation.
  • Don’t employ delaying tactics – dragging out the divorce won’t change the end result; it will only make things more difficult for all involved.


While some will agree to couples’ counselling or therapy, if one’s heart is not in salvaging the relationship, separation is inevitable. Link to counselling blog

What counselling can do is to help both parties consider all options in the here and now, gain clarity about their decision, and confidence moving forward.

Ultimately, we can’t control the decisions of another person. A marriage takes two people to work – it can’t survive without both parties wanting it to and working towards that common goal.

Sometimes positive changes and a willingness to be open for a while can make a difference. Usually, it will not – and by the time one asks for a divorce, their decision is made.

These days, there is no need for a spouse to show the courts a good reason for ending a marriage; if one spouse wants a divorce, it will ultimately be granted, whether the other spouse wants it or not. In the end, co-operating is always better than creating more conflict.

Regardless of the reason why your marriage has ended, or is ending, in most cases you will need a helping hand from a legal perspective.

If you are separating, please talk to us about the process you need to take to get the best possible outcome for everyone involved.

Call us on 07 3161 2762 or email at [email protected]