Maybe you see it coming or maybe it hits you like a ton of bricks. Either way, if your spouse asks for a divorce, it’s critical that you take the right steps without overreacting. It’s the moves you make at this point that will dictate what happens down the road.

The first thing you should do is find out why. This will give you a better idea of what to do next, such as going along with the request or asking if it’s possible to work things out in counseling.

From there, here are some other steps to take:

  • Take a minute to think: There’s nothing wrong with asking your spouse for some time to process what they’ve just told you. In fact, this is necessary in most cases, as you don’t want to do something you’ll regret.
  • Don’t beg: It’s okay if you want to look into ways to save your marriage, but this is a two-way street. If your spouse doesn’t want to do this, you shouldn’t beg them to stick around.
  • Avoid discussing the details of your divorce: This isn’t the right time to talk about child custody, property division and alimony, among other related details. You’ll have plenty of time for this when you enter mediation or take your case to court.

If your spouse unexpectedly asks you for a divorce, it’s likely to turn your life upside down. As bad as things seem, there are steps you can take to stabilize your life. Understanding your legal rights and preparing for the divorce process will help you set your sights on the future.