Top 5 People to Say ‘No’ To As You Get Divorce Ready


date published

14th September 2023

written by

Emma Heptonstall Image

date published

14th September 2023

Sometimes the people in your life need a no! Sometimes it’s your soon-to-be-ex, sometimes it’s your family, sometimes it’s yourself. On this blog I share the top 5 people to say no to as you get divorce ready.

Your soon-to-be-ex

Let me be clear: I am not suggesting your default setting in divorce negotiations is ‘no’. But it shouldn’t be ‘yes’ either. Instead, I encourage you to aim for a critical, calm detachment from anything your soon-to-be-ex comes out with. Whether that’s ranting about how badly they’ve been treated, or what the child arrangements should be.

Try (and I know this is hard), not to take it personally. This applies even if you’re aiming for the nicest, most amicable divorce on the history of the planet. Because divorce is more like a business arrangement than a therapy session.

General advice for giving feedback is to comment on the behaviour, not the person. It makes it much easier to talk about the thing that went wrong without shame. And that‘s true in divorce too. Focus on what is in front of you, not the motivations or feelings of your soon-to-be-ex. And when you say no, keep it about the proposition, not the person.

So, for example, ‘I don’t agree those arrangements are in the best interests of the children and I don’t see how they will work in practice’, rather than ‘Typical, you’re just thinking about what’s easiest for you again!’.

Your family and friends

Believe me, nothing brings out unwanted advice like divorce. I’ve heard it all.

And it’s essential you develop a loving ‘no’ with your friends and family as you get divorce ready. Your mum might insist on moving in to look after you as you can’t possibly cope. Your best friend might want to drag you out for a night on the tiles, when right now you can think of nothing worse. Your brother might want to ‘have words’ with your soon-to-be-ex.

No. To all of these, be able to adapt a stock phrase along the lines of ‘I love and appreciate you, but no thanks: what I could really do with from you is…’

Your children

It’s natural to worry about your children when you get divorce ready. You’re terrified of traumatising them. In truth, living in conflict is more damaging. It can be tempting to say yes to everything they ask for, in an effort to comfort them, and to show that they are loved. But, in the long run, this approach can cause a whole range of problems.

Yes, be gentle with your children. Give them space to talk through what they need, and answer their questions in an age appropriate way. Give them options wherever you can, so they feel a sense of autonomy and control. But remember, that more than anything else, your children want to feel safe, and to be parented, not left to run riot. They are highly likely to push boundaries in unacceptable ways: and when they do this, they are asking for a ‘no’. Give it to them, firmly and lovingly.

Your legal team

Remember it’s you instructing your legal team, not the other way around! Select yours with care as you get divorce ready: go for someone you have rapport with.

And don’t feel pressured into chasing settlements or arrangements that aren’t important to you. It’s much easier to do this if you’ve done the work to think about your values and priorities first: a hugely important initial step to get divorce ready.


Sometimes you have to call yourself out. All of us (me included for sure, and I bet you too) are guilty of hiding from uncomfortable truths or tasks. Maybe you hid from the fact your marriage wasn’t working for years. So, sometimes, it’s important to draw a line in the sand. To say no more hiding.

What have you been hiding from in your divorce recently? Is it that email from your solicitor? Is it looking at your bank statements, or getting the house valued? Is it the reality that your soon-to-be-ex is behaving in a high conflict way (you can read about high conflict behaviour in divorce here)? Whatever it is: no more letting it slide! Time to look it in the eye.

Now say yes! Get Divorce Ready with the book club!

The wonderful thing about saying no, is that it opens up a yes to something else. If you start saying no to extra voluntary tasks at school, you’ll have more energy to actually get your divorce moving. If you say no to your soon-to-be-ex’s unrealistic demands, you can hold your head high and think about what would work.

A ‘no’ creates a space for something better.

And here’s the something better I have for you this autumn. From 25 September you can join the How to be a Lady Who Leaves: The Ultimate Guide To Getting Divorce Ready book club.

Which means, as well as getting a complementary copy of the book:

  • You’ll be in a supportive cohort with other women, sharing experiences and learning
  • You can ask any questions and get clarity on anything you need
  • You’re more likely to actually do the exercises
  • You’ll be able to keep track of progress in real time
  • By the end of November you’ll know exactly where you want to be, and how.

It’s just £225 for eight weeks of support, including a copy of the book, workbooks and zoom sessions. I wanted to provide an accessible way to get your divorce moving this September, and this is it!

I can’t wait for you to join me. Read more about the book club and sign up here.


About Emma

Emma Heptonstall, the Divorce Alchemist is the author of the Amazon best-selling book How to be a Lady Who Leaves, the Ultimate Guide to Getting Divorce Ready. A former lawyer, Emma is a family mediator and founder of Get Divorce Ready the online self-study and group programmes. Emma has been featured on BBC Radio, The Telegraph, the iPaper and in Marie Claire Magazine. Emma is also the host of  The Six Minute Divorce Podcast. To find out more visit


Introducing Should I Be a Lady Who Leaves

The most comprehensive programme for deciding whether to stay or leave your relationship. No more sleepless nights, second-guessing your future. Learn how to make this most important decision with complete confidence, and move forward with ease.


Get Divorce-Ready™

Get Divorce-Ready™

The thought of divorce is scary – I get it.

When you know exactly what you have and what you want and need, you trust yourself and your confidence grows.

When you have trust in yourself you have a voice. When you have a voice, you’re able to advocate for yourself putting yourself in the best position to get your divorce done in the easiest way possible.

In this FREE guide, I will help you understand the 3 steps you need to take in order for you to be able to approach your divorce from a place of calm, clarity and confidence.

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